Do You Remember Bosnia?
Over 11,000 people were killed during the siege of Sarajevo, including 1,500 children - the bloodiest siege in history - with shells raining down on the capital city, constantly, for four years. Others in the outlying suburbs, were held in concentration or rape camps and still re-live the trauma of that every day.
What if you were under house arrest (that is your home was occupied and you were not permitted to leave)? What if your son had been forced to rape you at gunpoint, and your younger son had been forced to attempt to rape him? What if 27 members of your family had been killed?
What if you had been shot at by snipers whilst crossing the road to get to the stand pipe, or whilst queuing for water? (Many were shot at to maim, rather than to kill, typically in the hip, losing a leg so that they would become a burden but not be able to take up arms).
What if you did survive and you've even been lucky enough to have an artificial limb fitted (now stuffed with plastic carrier bags to try to improve the fit and make it more comfortable)? With no articulating joints from hip to toe and no re-fitting as the stump began to shrink? How much pain do you still carry in your body, from day to day?
Many, however, did not survive. What if DNA testing had eventually found your missing, executed, loved one - in as many as four different graves? What if you have not yet found your husband's body after all these years (thereby proving his murder) and so have not been entitled to any state aid in all this time?
Where would you go to for help when the perpetrators were those you knew, and with whom you had once lived happily side by side?
Yes, it was 20 years ago and, yes, the younger generation, thankfully, doesn't remember, but there are still plenty who do - who still can't sleep at night, who have not spoken a word since, who are maimed or injured and have no income, no livelihood and no-where else to turn.
Operating annually, six months of the year, whilst travel conditions permit, the Healing Hands Network (HHN) is the only humanitarian aid group which still holds a regular presence in Bosnia... the larger charities (and the eyes of the world) have long since withdrawn. HHN does not discriminate by race or creed and, after 20 years of successful operation, now works, during the summer months, from a small clinic in Sarajevo and six outreach locations.
The Healing Hands Network is totally self funded and run by volunteers. All therapists are also volunteers who are flown in to offer their physical, mental and emotional healing gifts. Each one has to raise £800 to fund their travel, accommodation and salaries of three local staff during their two week tour of duty - whilst offering their amazing work for free.
Julia in planning to go out to Bosnia with the Healing Hands Network in Summer of 2017 (the end of this season if finances permit). She'll be offering massage, scar healing, postural alignment, emotional wellbeing, Flower Essences, Reiki and healing at bone level, too. If you'd like to make a donation towards funding her time in Bosnia, you can do so here... She'll also be posting testimonials from some of HHN's clients, information on Bosnia and, when the time comes, a diary of her time in Sarajevo and its six outreach clinics... do sign up to this blog and stay in touch!
HHN operate in Bosnia for six months of the year, liaising with local self help organisations, such as Concentration Camp Union, Civil Victims of War, Mothers of Srebrenica and Women Victims of War, who send their members to HHN for help. These organisations are set up, and run, by the Bosnian people to help the many men and women who found themselves in rape and sexual torture camps.
For more information about the Healing Hands Network, check out www.healinghands.co.uk