Home: It makes me think of Sunday afternoon card games, the plants that have now created a small jungle at the house, and the Hello Kitty light switch in my room that has never been switched out after all these years. Most importantly, it reminds me of my family without whom home would have no meaning. These strong ties to home made spending this past weekend back in Srebrenica talking to survivors and listening to their stories particularly hard. My experience and reaction on the Peace March was very much about the tragedy that was committed on a broad scale, but coming back and talking to survivors made it more personal. Each survivor has a different story, but one thing is constant: each person’s life was forever changed because other humans deemed their family members were not worthy of a future. People were forced to flee their homes. The villages that housed multiple generations were burned down. The buildings that still stand no longer feel like home because the people that matter are no longer there. Home is simply a reminder of what could a been – a better future that was unjustly taken away. I’m angry that people were herded and killed like animals. I’m angry that Nura will never get the chance to play with her grandchildren. I’m angry that Saliha has to live in her home without her family. I’m angry that I’m angry. At the end of this I get to go home, but some of these people don’t have that luxury. To that I am heart broken and also at a loss.
Resilience: Lately, I’ve been having a hard time with the injustice imposed on people for just being people. This weekend didn’t give me any peace towards my feelings on human beings as a group, but it did give me some valuable insight into the resilience of people. I am amazed by how these survivors have chosen to live their lives. Even after losing their closest loved ones, these survivors feel no hatred. Hasan continues to share his story and work at the memorial where his father and brother are buried. Saliha graciously buys candy for the Serbian children. They live on. They tell their story so the rest of the world knows what happened. They do this in hopes that it never happens again to any other group of people. I’m humbled by the determination to live on, to seek justice, and to make peace with the past. These people, to me, are the faces of true resilience.