I chose this picture of a Sarajevo rose because it is indicative of the things I am trying to focus on from this trip going forward. I think they represent the ways in which the effects of the war stay with the Bosnian people. From the dysfunctional political system to lost loved ones to mental health impacts, it seems clear that it will impact this society for years to come.
At the same time, however, the attempt to find beauty in such an ugly context reminds me of so many of the people I have met during my time here. It makes me think of Hassan and my supervisor Maja, and the way that they find meaning in helping those who have suffered so much. I think of Ramiz risking his life to collect the bones of those who were massacred to help their families. Even Saliha, who clearly deals with the pain of her loss each and every day, welcomed us with open arms and an amazing meal. I am also reminded of the welcoming Bosnians we met in Mostar, who to give us food and drink and make sure we had a good time in their country. One of them, Jasmin, talked about how Bosnians try to cope with their past. He talked about living in the moment and trying to enjoy their lives with those that they care about, knowing all too well how easily it could all be taken away. That’s what I will remember more than anything from this trip. Not just the personal resilience of Bosnians who faced such terrible circumstances, but their willingness to help others in big and small ways, always with a smile on their face.