It’s been almost three months since I received the startled, expectant message on my voicemail:
“Alison, I’m waiting you! Why you no pick up me?”
Beba Hadzic, BOSFAM’s founder and director had arrived in the United States for a speaking tour jointly sponsored by The Advocacy Project (AP), The Heinrich Boell Foundation, and The Bosniak American Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina. My train from DC was more than an hour late and I wasn’t at the airport in Newark to greet her.
As I now piece together my own travel plans, I am sure that my arrival in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina will be quite different. Beba has already assured me that she will be standing at the Tuzla bus station the moment I get there. BOSFAM’s motto, “Don’t promise, DO SOMETHING!” leaves me feeling confident that I will not need to leave her a desperate voicemail in my broken Bosnian.
Although I’m not flying until June 15th, reminiscing about Beba’s time in the US has gotten me really excited about heading off to Bosnia. I’ll be working with Beba, my AP counterpart Kelsey, and the women of BOSFAM on a number of important projects which seek to generate income and provide psycho-social support for women who were displaced from their homes and traumatized by the war which occurred in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1992 and 1995.
Many of the women were directly impacted by the genocide which occurred in Srebrenica in July 1995, and now must struggle to provide for themselves and their families without the support of their husbands, sons, fathers and brothers. I feel so privileged to have the opportunity to work with these women this summer and hope that my contribution will have a positive impact on the difficult day to day realities they are confronted with.
This year marks the 14th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, but the wounds remain fresh given the tense political situation in the country and an unemployment rate of approximately 35%. Perhaps most importantly, Ratko Mladic, the commander of the Bosnian Serb paramilitary forces during the war and one of the chief architects of the genocide, remains at large. As an Advocacy Project Fellow for Peace, I will be working to raise awareness about BOSFAM’s important work both in-country and abroad through this blog and other mediums. I welcome your comments and suggestions, and a special thanks to my e-mentors for their support!
Take a look at the AP-produced YouTube video below for more information on BOSFAM’s work.
Posted By Alison Sluiter
Posted Jun 1st, 2009