Case Study: Hannah’s Story

It was important for Hannah – pictured right – who knew very little about the genocide prior to her visit that she makes an effort to raise awareness and help to build stronger communities in the UK.

Hannah’s grandparents were holocaust survivors who sheltered children from the Kindertransport and Hannah’s grandmother spent her whole life trying to educate people – by telling her story of being a young Jewish girl growing up in a time where you were persecuted for something as simple as your religious beliefs.

Hannah is now following in her grandmother’s footsteps and has pledged to do the same, not only about the Holocaust but to teach others who have not been to Srebrenica about what she learned there and the effect the experience has had on her.

She hopes that by teaching people the values of tolerance, understanding and diversity she can to challenge prejudice.  Hannah aims to try to tackle small scale prejudice which can often start as a throw-away comment, a drawing in a magazine or even a joke between friends but can ultimately have the power to snowball into something much larger and much more sinister.

So far this year, Hannah has been doing as much as possible to raise awareness of Srebrenica and has spoken on three different radio stations about what she learned in Bosnia. She approached the stations directly and explained her reasons for wanting to share her message. She gave a presentation on Srebrenica to over 100 people during a community dinner and has written an article called the ‘Changing Colour of War’ to be published in a number of magazines.

It is important to Hannah to educate people of different ages, genders and religions so has hosted a tea for a group of 30 older women and spoke about the lessons from Srebrenica.  Next for Hannah, who is part of a team running the activities on a camp for your people, is planning a social action fair style activity as well as a refugee conference which will teach younger people about the importance of giving something back to their communities and leadership and social action skills.

From one delegate who has been on a visit, Hannah now estimates she has reached at least 200 people and spoken to them about Srebrenica. This shows the influence one person can have on the world and how we can all go about to spread messages of peace and understanding if we just make the effort to try.

Hannah’s tips for getting spreading the lessons from Srebrenica:

  1. Use your existing networks. If you are part of an organisation, faith group or other network use this a starting point to spread your message. You can use this to grow, get ideas and your contacts will normally expand from there. Even if it starts by just talking to a friend, bringing it up in casual conversation with your flatmate or even an old school teacher you were close with.
  2. Don’t be afraid to talk to people. Be brave and pick up the phone. An email can be ignored or overlooked but if you make a call to a radio station and explain your story it is more likely you will get through to the right person and your pitch and be heard and listened to.
  3. Make the effort. Sometimes at the end of a long day you might not want to send an email, write an article or plan for a presentation but it is always worth the effort and the more you put into building community relations, the more you get out of it. Giving a presentation may seem like a massive task to begin with but even if you write one paragraph or even a sentence one evening, it will make the task at hand will become smaller and smaller. Every article written, every presentation given starts with a first draft.
  4. Don’t be afraid to show your passion. When approaching a school to ask if you can give a speech during an assembly, let them know your story and how/why it has affected you on such a level. Tell them why it has inspired you to spread the message, but most importantly let them know why it will benefit their students.