A network and its faces

“I’ll never forget that experience in my life”: this is the comment we most often hear from participants in our encounters. It always makes us happy to see how often this comes true. In August 2016, Dina Jurcic wrote a comment on the Facebook page of Youth United in Peace:
(Text: Dina Jurcic) Today, my boss asked me to look through all the issues of the daily newspaper “Voice of Istria” from July 1 to September 31, 1991 in the reading room of the library. Although I was not supposed to read all of them, but just look for some special articles, all those ghastly headlines, pictures and articles hit me like a fist in the stomach. And unfortunately, I’ll have to go on with it tomorrow, although I have barely found the strength today to cope with the terrible memories conjured up by these reports.

Although I’ve never posted anything on this website and you do not know most of you, after this day I feel the need to tell you how happy I am that you exist. You are walking the path of peace, unity and love. You walk it where it is possible, and you pave it where it doesn’t exist yet. You are all so strong, brave and wonderful, I just wanted to tell you that.

Valerija Forgic, our associate in Sombor, had not heard from Dina Juric for years. She contacted her and asked her for her story:
(Text: Dina Juric) I grew up in Serbia, the war did not take place in our country, and my parents never talked about it. I knew there had been a war, but I thought that was a long time ago and we should better forget it and move on. But then in 2005 I came to Neum, it was a unique experience that had a big impact on my life. I met adolescents who were old enough to remember the war and had lost family members in the war. Shortly thereafter, I came to Vukovar for the first time and saw the facades full of holes of shrapnel and bullets (although that was fifteen years after the war ended) and tears came to my eyes. I realized that 15 years are not such a long time and that we cannot just forget the war. First, wounds must be healed and bridges built before we can move forward. Four years later I finished school in Sombor and decided to study in Croatia. I was the only Serbian student there (and everyone knew that). Building peace, as I had learned it in Neum, became my main task for five years.

After all my experiences, I am convinced that we need encounters and personal relationships to heal, to rebuild, to start anew. We Serbs, Croats and Bosnians must meet, share our experiences and feelings and show each other that we are decent people with the capacity for compassion and love.

At university, I met a man from Dubrovnik who had witnessed the siege of this city during the war. His father fought in the army and has been suffering from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) ever since. We started spending time together and became good friends. One day he said to me, „My father would not be happy if he knew about our friendship. I have to confess to you, I did not even want to sit next to you. But I watched you and at some point I realized that you are a normal, nice and generous girl. I am glad that I met you. Before, I thought all the Serbs were crazy people who were always armed and hated everyone else. „