In our Spring newsletter, Companion Chris wrote about his visit to Bosnia in February this year, to spend a week finding out about the work of the Emmaus International Forum of Solidarity there. (Find his article online at www.emmausbristol.org.uk/Newsletter.html). In July he returned to help at their annual summer work camp held at Potacari near Srebrenica.
120 volunteers from all over Europe. This was the scale of the summer work camp in Bosnia this July. I was making good a promise to help the people of Bosnia after my visit in a very cold February this year.
Starting from Paris, a 27 hour coach journey through six countries took us to our camp in time for the beginning of the 15th Annual Memorial for the victims of the 1995 genocide of more than 8000 Muslim men and boys. Our first job? Cleaning up after the 50,000 mourners and others in temperatures reaching the high thirties!
Over the three week camp we had several projects: clearing paths, helping local people with ground clearing, hay gathering and food harvesting, and the main project of helping build a European Centre for IFS-Emmaus. The work was hard and we never had temperatures below 34 degrees, however we were there for a very serious purpose, to help people still feeling the effects of a war that ended fifteen years ago. It wasn’t all work though. We toured the cities of Tuzla and Sarajevo and were given cultural talks and films to help us see in context the reasons why our efforts were so badly needed in this part of Europe. We partied also, celebrating the foundation laying of the new centre with some traditional Bosnian folk, popular and heavy rock music.
In all I had the most wonderful experience and was again reminded what Emmaus can do when enough people come together with the common purpose of helping first those who suffer most. It was even worth a further 30 hour coach journey back to Paris! autumnnewsletter2010