Christian Travelers Guide + TIME

One Year On

We've been back from Bosnia a year. It doesn't seem like we have been back for that long, Bosnia still seems very real. Some days I feel that I am going to wake up and find myself in our old house, standing on the porch looking out over the garden, feeling the coolness of the early morning before the heat of the day really starts. That was my favourite part of being in Bosnia. That moment when the goose bumps come out on your arms and you know it is going to be a really hot day.

There are many things I miss about Bosnia. The people whose irreverent, sparky, inappropriate sense of humour just made me laugh. The countryside with its hills and forests, rivers and lakes. The delicate small mosques and the call to prayer which helped me frame my own day. The gentle outline of an Orthodox church and its cross. The taste of lamb, roasted over a spit and served up with the freshest of bread, cucumber salad and nothing else, the flavours singing in their simpleness.

The conflict in Bosnia, from 1992-95, continues to define the country. This past year has seen some huge steps backwards in their progress towards reconciliation and a stable future. A Serb Orthodox church is being built in Srebrenica, seen by most as an act of provocation by the Bosnian Serb government who are, even now, denying the genocide that occurred there in July 1995.

As 2011 continues to see so much protest and, now in Libya conflict, the eyes of the world are far from Bosnia, far from what is going on there. Bosnian Serbs are being encouraged to leave Sarajevo. People are starting to think that the RS (the Bosnian Serb half of Bosnia) might just split from Bosnia, or at least declare their intention to. This is what the Bosnian Muslims fought so hard to prevent from happening, the break up of their country leaving them with a tiny, unworkable nation. Bosnia is a country full of guns and people used to fighting. Such a split is unlikely to proceed peacefully.

General estimates are that of the 2 million people who were forced from their homes during the Bosnian conflict, 1 million have now returned. Many of them are what is known as 'minority returnees' or people whose ethnicity is different from that of the majority and, crucially, the government responsible for them. These minority returnees were encouraged to go 'home' by the international community. We said we would protect them, ensure they would be able to rebuild their lives in safety. But that was 10 years ago.

Now there is a lot else going on in the world. But the returnees are still vulnerable and the international community needs to pay attention. So many people living their lives in worry. Making their coffee and smelling the coolness in the early summer morning and worried about what is coming their way.

A year away from Bosnia and it seems that this worry has intensified. The political situation is still toxic. There is a Serb politician who uses nationalism as a tool to remain in power. And there are a lot of very frightened people.

bosnian politics, church, power, prayer, and more:

One Year On + TIME