Lush green forests, a beautiful white house, and two women deep in conversation. It looks so peaceful and serene…which it was. However, it is hard for me to grasp the beauty of this photograph while also understanding the story behind it.
Saliha was one of the most amazing and inspiring people that I have ever met. Although she lost both of her sons, her husband, and her home during the war and the Srebenica genocide, she returned 10 years later and rebuilt her home- the house you see in this picture. The area where Saliha once used to call home is now completely different. Many of her neighbors either fled or died in the war, and many of the houses and buildings were destroyed.
Saliha’s resiliency, bravery, warmth, and kindness towards us was so genuine and touching. I feel so honored that she was able to share her story with us and also so many delicious homemade dishes. I felt a lot of love that afternoon.
I am so thankful that our professor (in the photo speaking with Saliha) was able to make so many connections with survivors in this country. It was amazing to be a part of the first study abroad group to visit her. Saliha is a real survivor- a hero. She returned to a place that many survivors could not bear to see again and reclaimed her house, and maybe in a bigger sense, her territory. Although there is a lot of pain involved in the story of this picture, there is also a lot of beauty and happiness. This is why I find it so captivating.