How lucky am I to be traveling with three amazing women from Bosnia and Herzegovina during visits to womens associations in Srebrenica and Tuzla! You have already been introduced to Amra Celebic in my previous blog.
We will be accompanied by Ivona Orec, originally from Mostar, but now transplanted in Sarajevo.
Although her family is Croat, her parents provided refuge to Bosnian Muslim friends during the war. She reflects now on how proud she is that her parents did this, how lucky she is to have had such an example of both kindness and resistance when Mostar was falling to such violence.
Ivona is Amra’s friend and she has volunteered to come along to Srebrenica, taking time off from work and offering to drive us with her own vehicle. Today, we had coffee in her hometown overlooking Stari Most, the old bridge, which was destroyed in the war and reconstructed in 2004. She shared with me her personal interest in this trip and in Srebrenica. Although Ivona comes from a divided town which carries a lot of its own pain caused by the war, she believes that every citizen of this country should face Srebrenica and its past.
She expressed her desire to someday work in the field of historic monuments preservation and would like to find ways to link BiH’s historic sites in an effort to preserve the rich multicultural aspects of the country.
For me, visiting Srebrenica will be an emotional experience. But I want to pay respect to the victims buried there, see the Memorial (Srebrenica-Potocari Memorial Center), learn how it was established, and understand its completion process.
My third travel mate is Elmina Kulasic, originally from Kozarac, northern Bosnia and Herzegovina. I met Elmina in Washington, DC during an evening course on Civil Resistance and Power Politics. She is formerly the Executive Director of the Bosniac-American Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina, based in Washington, DC. http://www.baacbh.org/site/en/?action=programDirector
Her family sought refuge during the war, after hundreds of people from her village were taken to concentration camps and later expelled from the country. Elmina learned that I would be in Sarajevo this week, and so would she. When I told her about my travel to Srebrenica, she was definitely interested. I was not surprised when I got an email message from Elmina today which read: I would like to join you.
So, together with my three accomplished and heroic comrades, I head to eastern Bosnia tomorrow . . .