Simran Sachdev

Simran Sachdev (Women in Black Network from Serbia): Simran earned her undergraduate degree from New York University in Communication Studies. She then worked in Online Marketing for over three years. At the time of her fellowship, Simran was pursuing a Master’s Degree from New York University in Global Affairs with a concentration in Human Rights and Humanitarian Assistance. After her fellowship, Simran wrote: “The experience has made me more aware of how I live my daily life and how the little actions I take can affect the world at large (such as wasting food, wasting money, taking things for granted, etc.). (But) I have realized that it is really difficult to change the way people think, which can be a large barrier to change.” Before starting her Master’s Program she worked in Online Marketing for over three years.



THE KOLAR FAMILY AND ITS IMPACT

22 Jul

Too often I hear individuals say that their small actions won’t make a difference in this large world.  And they use this as an excuse to follow the actions of the mainstream.  I personally believe that each individual can make an impact, however large or small, on the happenings of the world.  And the more individuals that change their lifestyles for the better, the better the world becomes as a whole.

My recent trip to Sarajevo, Bosnia provided me with proof of my belief that each individual can make a difference.  In this specific instance, it was actually the work of an entire family that saved thousands of lives and ended up saving the city of Sarajevo from Serbian control.

During my trip I visited the Tunnel Museum, which gets its name for a 800 meter long tunnel that was built in the backyard of the Kolar family’s home.  During the Bosnian War, the Bosnian Capital of Sarajevo was seized by Serbian forces and all routes in and out of the city were blocked off.  This is what spurred the digging of the tunnel.

While the tunnel was dug by Bosnian volunteers, the Kolar family made a great contribution by allowing the digging in their backyard and supporting work surrounding the tunnel.  This act is even more heroic during war-torn times where any punishment is possible towards people taking part in resistance activities.

Once the tunnel was ready, it was about 800 meters long and about 1.5 meters high and wide.  About 1 million people passed through this tunnel to and from the Sarajevo airport, which was under UN control.  About 20 million tons of food was brought into Sarajevo through this tunnel.  The tunnel also allowed for humanitarian aid to enter Bosnia and helped the Bosnian army acquire weapons from the outside world.  (Facts from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarajevo_Tunnel)

“The memory of the tunnel is being kept alive by the Kolar family, whose house was the starting point of the construction… The family itself helped to dig it and has kept all of the tools and materials that were used in the process.” (Quote from http://www.wieninternational.at/en/node/13830)

I’m glad to see that the Kolar family is able to run the museum itself, rather than having to give it up to the Bosnian government.

In conclusion, I just want to say that each person’s individual contribution to activism is extremely important.  Whether that contribution is lending a backyard to create an escape route, or boycotting a pair of sneakers that were made by slave labor, each individual can (and should) make a difference.  We need to make others more cognizant of the fact that they can make a large impact by simply making conscious choices and realizing that if they want to, they can have a say in the way the world works.

Posted By Simran Sachdev

Posted Jul 22nd, 2009

2 Comments

  • Laurie Cohen

    July 22, 2009

     

    Hi Simran,

    One of my grimly favorite things in the world is visiting memorials and related museums, and I had absolutely no idea about the Tunnel Museum. Thank you for uploading the pictures and for explaining the role of how a single family made a huge impact. I spent many, many years working in corporate America and was always overwhelmed at the thought of how me, a single insignificant person, could make any sort of impact.

    Eventually, I figured it out and am continually inspired by your posts. Bosnia, Serbia, and indeed much of Southern Europe, are all countries I very much want to visit. Looking forward to sharing stories and I commend you for paying testament to all the suffering, horrors, and amazing sacrifices that people in the region – regardless of ethnicity – have made.

    Take care and be safe!
    Laurie

  • JenMarie Landig

    July 23, 2009

     

    Absolutely Simran! I totally agree. Thank you for expressing an important point so eloquently and for sharing the Kolar family story. Keep this spirit alive!

    Love,
    JM

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