For event organiser and Remembering Srebrenica’s West Midlands regional board chair Tom Reynolds, pictured above with Aida Salkić Haughton, the striking lesson he learnt on his visit to Srebrenica was how neighbours, who had previously been friends, turned against each other during times of conflict. For his own community, he wanted to use this part of history to build community relations in his area.
The fact that Bosnia & Herzegovina was an integrated society before the war demonstrated the need to never be complacent about community cohesion. After readings, poems and instrumental music, guests were asked to turn to each other, shake hands, introduce themselves and start to build relations with people they had never met before.
This was the first step to embracing diversity and a community making headway in coming together through remembering and friendship not just between different faiths, but also those of different ages, genders and political beliefs.
Tom felt a sense of responsibility having been given the opportunity to attend a ‘Lessons from Srebrenica’ delegation in 2014 and wanted to ensure that others have the chance to hear about the atrocity which occurred in 1995.
One of the most powerful aspects of the day was when a member of the Bosnian community who now lives and works in the UK read out a list of all of her friends who had been killed, to give a hugely personal and moving perspective to the horrors of conflict.
Following on from the memorial event, the organisers are working with individuals and young people from Stoke on a mentoring scheme. This will see professionals matched with young people to help them set up social action projects to benefit their communities based on the lessons learned in Srebrenica.
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