Alison Sluiter

Alison Sluiter (Bosnian Women – BOSFAM): Alison graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in 2008 with a BS in Foreign Service. While at university she studied abroad in Warsaw and Berlin where she interned at the Blaetter fuer deutsche und internationale Politik, a German-language political journal. Alison returned to Berlin during her senior year with a grant from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) to conduct research for her thesis on the educational attainment levels of Turkish-German female students in Germany. During 2008 Alison worked at The Advocacy Project in Washington, where she helped to build the Srebrenica Memorial Quilt project and coordinate outreach. She also accompanied Beba Hadzic on a visit to Bosnian diaspora groups in St. Louis, Chicago, New York, and Washington. After her fellowship in Bosnia, Alison wrote: “All the women of BOSFAM have been so welcoming and accepting - I feel like I have 10 new mothers."



July 11th 2009

13 Jul

Although I thought I was mentally prepared for the events of last week, sitting down this morning to write, I feel as though I am still processing everything I saw, heard, and felt at Potocari. The experience of attending the commemoration service for this year’s newly identified victims of the Srebrenica genocide has had a profound impact on me – one that I feel I am hardly capable of adequately describing in several hundred words.

The remains of 534 individuals were buried this Saturday at the memorial center in Potocari, a village near Srebrenica in northeastern Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). As coffin after coffin went by in what seemed like a never-ending procession, I struggled to think about what this meant to the families of victims who had come to Potocari that day to bury their loved ones. The individuals buried included boys as young as 14; children whose lives were cut short in the worst possible of ways. Others were old men who left behind entire families. How are their wives, sisters, and daughters expected to cope with this kind of loss?

Beba Hadzic, BOSFAM’s Director, introduced me to a 14-year-old girl who was at Potocari to bury a father she had never known. She was only six months old when the genocide occurred. I cannot personally grasp what she must have been feeling on Saturday. The only real memory of her father she will have for entire life will be the day that she watched the remnants of his body go into a hole in the ground.

While there may be comfort in searching for explanations, there is no logical reason why human beings would do such a thing to one another. It simply does not make sense. I am overwhelmed by the pain the survivors must deal with everyday, and hope that those who recently buried their friends and relatives are able to find closure. My wish, like that of the organization I have the privilege to currently work with, is that there will never be another Srebrenica anywhere, ever again.

A woman waits for the remains of her loved one to be delivered at Potocari

Posted By Alison Sluiter

Posted Jul 13th, 2009

60 Comments

  • Stephanie

    July 13, 2009

     

    Alison,
    I was thinking of you, Beba and all the survivors of Srebenica on Saturday. You really hit me when you asked, How are their wives, sisters, and daughters expected to cope with this kind of loss?
    Only organizations like BOSFAM and people like Beba know how hard it must be. The international community stopped asking that question and caring about that issue a long time ago. What happened to that 14-year-old girl’s father will affect her throughout her entire life and it will affect the lives of her children one day too. I look forward to your next entry. Thank you.

  • MacKenzie

    July 13, 2009

     

    I found it is almost impossible to convey what you see there in words. I have some amazing pictures that bring me back to the day whenever I look at them. It really does take days to process what you have seen and learned. Makes your own life feel so different and easy compared to many of the people you meet there.

  • Alison Sluiter

    July 16, 2009

     

    Thank you Stephanie and MacKenzie – I know being here in the past had a major effect on both of your lives. Knowing that I have your support while in Tuzla means a great deal to me and I look forward to more comments from both of you in the future.

  • Owen

    July 24, 2009

     

    Difficult enough for the sight of your father’s coffin to be your only knowledge of him, but then to know how and why he came to be in that coffin must be a grim experience. 534 coffins must have seemed an endless sequence, and then multiply that figure by 15 times – hard to contemplate.

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