I am finally back in Sarajevo. It’s really good to be back. I missed the people, the wonderful food and even Cheers. The Srebrenica program was truly something amazing, and as much as I am happy I completed the program it feels extremely good to be back. The two weeks spent in Srebrenica made me understand the genocide and what happened in ways I could have never imagined; not to mention how significantly important the march was to fully comprehend the pain people went through doing it.
The Peace March was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Looking back on it I am really proud I made it to the end and achieved something so beautiful and powerful. Of course those weren’t really my thoughts during it. The physical pain during the march is truly something that cannot be described very easily. The first day feels easy, the terrain isn’t too demanding and the pace that you follow isn’t very hard either. This is what I was thinking for the first few hours. After the first four hours of march, the legs start to feel tired, but you know that you still have at least 5 more hours to walk. The only thing you can do is keep walking. By the end of the first day I was exhausted, it felt good to be done, but it wasn’t easy. The thought of doing this all over again the next day was daunting. This thought came before I found out that we still had 3 kilometers to do to reach where we were going to sleep. Those three kilometers felt the longest of my life. When we finally made it to our resting place I saw everyone. The moment I saw Emily and the others I was extremely happy. However, the moment that marked that night was how Emily told us how proud of us she was that we were doing this. Those very words would bring me strength to finish when I needed it most.
By the end of day 1, blisters had already decided to pay me a visit. By day 2 those blisters would grow and cause me pain every single step of the way. Countless times I wanted to quit because of the pain in my feet, but then I would remember Emily’s words and smile from the previous days and push that pain aside and just keep walking. And thus the second day came to an end and my blisters had grown to such a point that my feet didn’t look normal anymore. The pain was indescribable but I had come too far to quit now. I had to finish the third day.
The entire third day was a struggle. The pain in my feet started since the very first step and wouldn’t end until the end. The third day was by far the hardest. Half of the hike was uphill, and with legs that were close to the limit, all I felt was frustration and pain. I didn’t want to go on anymore. Every small uphill was followed by a small descent which was immediately followed again by an uphill portion. This routine would happen over the span of several hours as the frustration would rise. The thought of finishing seemed almost impossible. Once again though I would picture everyone back at camping waiting for us and ready to greet us and tell us how proud they were. I had to make them proud, I had to finish. For the last 2 hours that would be my only thought; finishing the march and make everyone proud.
Once I reached the end I was incredibly happy and sad at the same time. Happy because of what I just accomplished, sad because of the 409 coffins that were being brought out. A small car ride later we had made it to the hostel. Everyone that was waiting for us were cheering and all I could do was smile and sit down. I was so exhausted and in pain but I was also so happy. Words cannot describe that feeling of deep joy seeing everyone as happy as they were. I do think that I was able to finish this march because of those people that kept cheering us and patiently waiting for us at the end of each day.