Donna Harati

Donna Harati (Women in Black in Serbia): Donna spent the 2007 and 2008 summers working in Zambia with Project Concern International, and helping a peer mediation program for at risk youth in Zambian schools. Donna also taught English in Mauritius through Learning Enterprises. At the time of her fellowship, Donna was pursuing a degree in Cultural Politics with a focus on social justice from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. While at university, she also worked with incarcerated adults and court adjudicated youth through Georgetown’s Center for Social Justice. After her fellowship, Donna wrote: “I was faced with questions I did not know even existed. If my experience in Serbia taught me anything, it was that being complacent is simply not an option.”

Hi from Serbia!

02 Jun

I made it to Serbia! It’s been crazy watching the news about the missing Air France flight that was headed to Paris since I took an Air France flight to Paris to get here. Luckily, I made it to Belgrade, and Jennifer, a BVS volunteer working with WIB, met me at the airport. Even though I was desperate for a nap, I knew that if I slept, I would never get over my jet lag, so I decided to push through and go to the office with Jennifer. On the way to the office, we passed by some buildings that had been bombed by NATO in 1999. The Serbian government has left these buildings intact, sending a pretty powerful message.

This building was bombed by NATO in 1999. Today, it looks exactly as it did then.

This building was bombed by NATO in 1999. Today, it looks exactly as it did then.

The office itself is adorned with WIB posters and pictures, creating a lively atmosphere. A few members were in a meeting, so I met those who weren’t and had my first Serbian coffee. A little while later, the meeting ended, and Stasa, the director of WIB in Belgrade, burst into the room. She immediately came over to me, grabbed my face, exclaimed “Iranian!”, and gave me a big hug. Needless to say, I already feel pretty comfortable here.

Stasa directed everyone into the “meeting” room for a planning session regarding the upcoming trip to Southern Serbia. We are traveling there this weekend to hold a series of workshops for the WIB network. Even though I don’t speak Serbian, it was clear to me that these women are pros at putting on this kind of thing. They brought in a bunch of shoeboxes and began to speak animatedly about the performance they were going to put on. Jennifer told me they were planning on stacking the boxes into a pyramid to represent the hierarchy of the military. The plan was developed and expanded upon before my eyes as they practiced removing boxes (each box is to symbolize a conflict in the world) until the pyramid collapsed, demonstrating how the hierarchy of the military can be broken down. Stasa then brought a huge bright pink cloth and had me and two other women stand in it. It turns out it was designed like one of those Chinese New Year dragons, but in this case, it’s supposed to represent a caterpillar with the message that “slowly but surely, peace can be achieved”. I’m really excited to see these performances executed this weekend.

After the planning meeting, Stasa decided that we all needed to eat, so a few of the women went to the market and whipped up a fresh and delicious meal consisting of eggs, a perfect salad, cheese and bread upon their return. Stasa asked me a lot of questions about my family and background during the meal, but talk quickly turned to WIB matters in Serbian. Jennifer and I left a little while after that, and I slept from 7:00 pm to 10:30 am, which I think is a personal record. Hopefully, that won’t become a regular thing.

Posted By Donna Harati

Posted Jun 2nd, 2009

1 Comment

  • Rebecca

    June 2, 2009


    Wow the WIB message is powerful. I’m excited to learn how Serbian women react to their performances. Hope you recover from the jet lag soon, Donna!

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