I want to start off by informing you that today’s blogpost is going to be a bit unconventional. I will touch on what we did throughout the day, but then expand more on that which specifically touched me the most.
Our day began in the beautiful mountains of Sarajevo. It started off a bit rough, as Meghan, Isabella and I woke up later than the time we were meant to be down for breakfast. (Don’t worry though, we all made it in time to get in a couple of yummy bites of burek (a Phyllo dough pastry with meat inside). After breakfast we met up with our tour guide Taib and headed with him up to the Tunnel of Hope and then proceeded on to see the bobsled and luge Olympic site from when the Olympics were held in Bosnia in 1984. The day also consisted of a visit to a mosque, lunch, exploring the bazaars, me going back to the mosque to pray in congregation for the afternoon prayer around five pm, and then ending with a visit to a museum dedicated to the Bosnian genocide, in which over 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were mass murdered by Bosnian Serb forces in 1995.
For me, the most touching parts of this day were the prayer I performed in the mosque, as well as visiting the genocide museum. I would like to share with you some of my reflections as I’ve written them in my journal:
“As I raised my hands up in prayer, I heard the sound of thunder and lightning crashing down. I got chills. That combined with the calming and melodious recitation of the Qur’an by the Imam really felt other-worldly. In that moment I felt calm and safe. I felt grateful that while I was trying to find my way around this mosque in another country, that there was a kind young woman who decided to speak to me and invited me to walk with her as we entered the mosque together. I felt an automatic connection of sisterhood to her, in faith, and I felt happy that I’d made a new friend. This prayer in the mosque was one that was long overdue and one that left tears in my eyes.”
“I feel very hurt and struck to my core. What I’m seeing in front of me, pictures of bones from mass graves and people who are innocent, but still in so much pain hurts me deeply. I never want other people to suffer, even if that be at my own expense and whether that be my close friends or complete strangers. I only wish happiness upon every person. When you recognize the fact that every human being deserves equal rights to life, liberty, and happiness, it is very difficult when you learn about atrocities such as this. It makes you wonder, what if that was me in that situation? Would anyone help me? Or, how could this have happened? How could we as humans get to a point where our ideas of another group of people as being inferior and the “other” can become such an integral part of our belief system that we would then use that to justify our crimes against humanity? Why do we keep repeating our past; why won’t we learn from our past? Such questions and thoughts are difficult, but also invaluable to reflect on. For without reflecting, we are merely passively existing and to actively live, we must reflect and ask ourselves these tough questions so that we don’t ever contribute to injustice (whether large or small) through our INaction. For me, such moments are difficult, but are also crucial in reinforcing the importance of my already existing passion to do something to give back to humanity; to dedicate my life to helping others. Each one of us on this earth has birth-given rights that are ours and only ours. We must never forget this even when we see attempts by certain groups of people to steal these away from others. We must stand up for what is right in the face of injustice.
I am grateful to be on this trip and experiencing all that I am and I assure you that everyone here is having an incredible time. I’m looking forward to another night of peaceful sleep on the bed of the mountains in Sarajevo.
Lastly, I will leave you with a quote from the genocide museum: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”-Edmund Burke
So, we must. Do something.
Photos by Dr. Jones