Nela Hasic is the Regional Director of the Women’s Health Empowerment Program (WHEP) in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in Montenegro; she has been working for JDC since 2004.
A member of the local Jewish community of Sarajevo, Nela and her family were forced to flee Bosnia-Herzegovina when the war in Former Yugoslavia broke out in 1992. With JDC’s assistance, Nela was flown to Belgrade with her two young children, Benyamin and Maya. Her husband stayed in Sarajevo. After six trying months, the family was finally reunited in Budapest. Soon after, the Hasics made Aliyah to Israel.
In 2002, after spending what Nela describes as a rewarding decade in Israel – working and raising her family, learning Hebrew and English, they returned to Sarajevo. Nela began working with JDC in January 2004, and was soon appointed Director of WHEP for Bosnia, where she has expanded the program’s reach.
WHEP Bosnia builds bridges between Bosnia’s complex Muslim, Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Jewish communities by bringing women, and their families, together to fight a shared enemy: breast cancer. It is still largely taboo for women to discuss personal health issues, and this project is blazing new territories by openly discussing female health issues.
Nela is deeply committed to the WHEP, and has helped to expand it to Hungary, Russia, and to Georgia. In 2009, Nela helped WHEP expand its activities to Montenegro, and she now also supervises the program activities there.
WHEP is a non-sectarian partnership between the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), an overseas humanitarian aid organization that works in over 70 countries, and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists. WHEP is an innovative public movement which provides psychosocial support services by and for women with breast cancer and their families, as well as a variety of public education programs to encourage early detection of breast cancer. The Program also provides organizational development trainingto NGOs active in this sector in eight different cities in Bosnia.