“Attending the annual memorial at Potocari (the site where over 8000 males were massacred in July 1995) was an event that would tug at the strongest of hearts. As a volunteer, I had heard the horrendous war-time stories from my host family over the 3 weeks I had stayed with them, but it was only upon attending such an emotional event, steeped in sorrow, that I realised the scale of the genocide.
One thing stuck with me from that day – Bosnia’s tragic stories deserve to be heard at the very least, for ignoring such atrocities is paramount to our failure as fellow citizens from both an Islamic and moral perspective.
The experience as a whole was not only that of a volunteering project, but a journey on so many levels. Spiritually, morally, emotionally and personally, I learnt a lot about my character that I doubt I could have without stepping out of my comfort zone into this environment.
I saw my religion practised by an entirely different ethnic group and broke down barriers which previously seemed immovable. Volunteering abroad also gave me a completely new form of independence I had not experienced before. It benefitted other areas of my skill base in terms of verbal and non-verbal communication, teamwork and time management skills.”
About the project
Bosnia & Herzegovina: The Journey was a one month programme run in 2011 and 2012 for young Muslims to learn about conflict and development, reviving the Islamic concept of a journey as an act of learning and enrichment, rather than just a photo opportunity!
The volunteers lived with survivors of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre supporting them with their day to day farming tasks as well as setting up strawberry farms which they fundraised for in the UK. The volunteers also took part in the three day Mars Mira (“Peace March”) through the route the Bosnians took to flee the Serbian army and attended the anniversary of the massacre along with thousands of people from around the world.