It’s hard to truly process everything that I have experienced during our trip to Srebrenica. Learning about the genocide has been both eye opening and heartbreaking for me. I think the part of the trip which was perhaps the hardest was how little I had known about the genocide before enrolling in this course. My formal school education did not discuss it, and I believe my parents wanted to shield me from what was happening, as I was so young.
The two experiences which will remain with me forever in Srebrenica were meeting Hassan and SuliHa. While Hassan does not have a social work educational background as we do, he often spoke through a trauma informed lens. I found it powerful how he expressed that while you may live your life after going through such intense experiences as the genocide, these experiences never leave you. When you’re eating breakfast, driving, spending time with friends and all of your everyday experiences, your trauma remains with you. Hassan pointed out that he has a difficult time relaxing, as he is always anxious in the back of his mind. This made me think of my clients, may of whom have been through horrific trauma. Despite everything he has been through, Hassan looks at his experiences through a strengths based perspective. He spends his job and a large part of his life educating others on his personal story and the Bosian genocide.
Meeting SuliHa and hearing her story brought me to tears. In many ways, she reminded me of my Italian grandma, who lived in Italy during World War 2. SuliHa, like my grandmother, lost loved ones. Her husband and two sons were killed during the Bosian genocide, and she has had to live everyday with this horrific loss. The most heartbreaking part of hearing her story was when she said that she is all alone. SuliHa expressed that she does not have her family to share her life with. It is truly amazing that she does not seem to harbor anger towards the Serbs who murdered her family members. Like many Bosians, SuliHa expressed that it is in God’s hands to handle those who committed these horrible acts. Her incredible story of strength and tenacity will remain with me forever.