The founding of Radio La Benevolencija was inspired by La Benevolencija Sarajevo, a local humanitarian organization set up by members of the city’s Jewish community, which played a unique role during the Bosnian war (1992-1995). The organization was regarded as neutral, its members acting as emissaries and negotiators between the warring parties in the conflict (Bosniak Muslims, Catholic Croats and Orthodox Serbs). This enabled them to support the civilians affected by the violence.
During the siege of Sarajevo (1992-1996), the organization supplied the city with up to 40% of the needed medicines, and smuggled thousands of people out of the city by providing them with documents as members of the Jewish community, emulating the actions of those who saved Jews from the concentration camps by providing them with foreign passports. Acting themselves as they would have liked others to act towards them in times of threat, the organization evolved into an ethnic mix and became a symbol for empathy, solidarity and self-empowerment among targets of hate speech and ethnocentric violence.
George Weiss set up a European support network for La Benevolencija Sarajevo in the 1990s. Some years later (2002) he founded, together with a group of Amsterdam-based media professionals, Radio La Benevolencija Humanitarian Tools Foundation: a Dutch NGO working in La Benevolencija Sarajevo’s spirit of self-empowerment through a solidarity alliance among targets of persecution and those who stand up to help them.
Radio La Benevolencija is strictly non-ethnic, non-denominational and non-governmental. It first started operating in Rwanda in 2003, and later extended its activities to neighboring countries (Burundi in 2007 and the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2008). European operations commenced in 2016.