My very first encounter with Bosnia-Herzegovina was through a movie entitled No Man’s Land. It’s a touching film about the Bosnian war. I knew practically nothing about the history of this war and my curiosity led me to research about the country, which was formerly a province of Yugoslavia.
Yugoslavia was once a federation of six republics and experienced a period of robust economic growth and a stable political environment. Unfortunately, after the death of their President, Josip Tito, and a series of ethnic and political conflicts, the country eventually disintegrated into different independent states. That was in 1991. Today Yugoslavia is non-existent and in its place are countries of Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Serbia (with autonomous provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina), Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Bosnia-Herzegovina probably experienced the hardest hit during the ethnic wars from 1991 to 1995. More than 20 years after the war, the country is still slowly rising from the ashes. Although one can still see snippets of the country’s natural beauty and affluence during its heyday, still there are mementos everywhere in Sarajevo that remind us of the horrors of war.
It is only in this country where I saw rows and rows of cemeteries almost everywhere – not only in the countryside but right within the city of Sarajevo. Apparently, people did not have time to properly entomb their loved ones that they buried them right in the sidewalks of the streets of Sarajevo. A former football field where people went to cheer their favorite team became a gloomy cemetery where people mourned for the dead. One can still see areas where bombs fell and crowds of people died. Many buildings still bear bullet holes and scars left behind by mortars and machine guns. Official reports said that up to 120,000 people died during the Bosnian War.
But this country is resilient, diligent and determined. Someone has said that people have learned that wars do not bring anything other than death and misery. They are determined to live in peace, accept their ethnic and individual differences and make this country great once again.
In this photo series, I would like to share with you the Bosnia-Herzegovina of today – scarred by war but nevertheless, fired by hope.
Psalm 34:14 “Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”