HHN is a charity dedicated to the relief of suffering caused by war and disaster. Since 1997 volunteer teams of complementary therapists have worked in Bosnia, giving over 40,000 treatments. Their clients come through the Civil Victims Association, the Concentration Camp Union, the Centre for Torture Victims, and the Mothers of Srebrenica.
It was a fantastic day, and I left feeling much more confident about going to Sarajevo. I'm really fired up and enthused about the value of the services HHN offer, and I can't wait to become part of that in September.
The thing that struck me most was the clients' stories. I was young during the war in the former Yugoslavia, and struggled to understand what was happening at the time, who was fighting who and why. I certainly wasn't aware of the impact on the ordinary civilians until I became involved with HHN. When I went to Cambodia last year, I was deeply affected by what had happened there, the fact that it was during my lifetime, and many of the people I walked past on the street had lived through it. Although I am not trying to draw impossible comparisons between two situations, the siege of Sarajevo was more recent and much closer to home. Again I feel the sense of shock, of disbelief at what people have lived through, and a guilty relief that I haven't had to face that. The fact that, through HHN, I have a way to use my skills to reach out to a few people and make things a tiny bit better for them is, quite frankly, an amazing feeling. And it seems inconceivable to not go.
I just want to share a few of the quotes and pictures from the workshop with you, to try to explain why I am so excited about what HHN does.
I am a refugee from Eastern Bosnia.
I was held 1 year in a concentration camp.
I have damage to hips and legs from the regular beatings I received.
I hardly sleep, nightmares haunt me still.
I live with my son now as my husband died a year ago.
I belong to CWV (Civil War Victims) Association.
I am so glad to receive help from Healing Hands Network as their continued work has helped me to recover this far.
My name is Hrzeta.
I was held at gunpoint in my home, along with my husband and brother.
They were shot dead.
I broke my back- I was paraplegic for a long time.
I had to work for years to regain my bodily health and learn to walk again.
Healing Hands Network have been giving me Reiki and I have begun to work through my emotional traumas.
I am beginning to feel like a person again, and to lead a useful life thanks to this continued care.
Thank you from my heart for your wonderful work, kindness and support.
This is the first time Selma had slept for a long time.
Selma was in a concentration camp for 4 years, and still suffers nightmares about her treatment there. She suffers severe depression and it was affecting her family life. Her husband was concerned about her.
After her treatment session, she slept like a baby for half an hour! She looked totally different.
When she returned the following week, she had a big smile and a spring in her step that had been missing. She had turned a corner, due she claimed, to repeated therapies from HHN.
She was coping better and was working again. Her family were pleased!
This lady was sitting at her table one day when a shell came through the window. It took off her left breast, her arm from just above the elbow, and her abdomen burst open. Her husband even has to fasten the zip on her skirt – you need two hands.
This is the outreach centre at Vogosca. HHN works through four such centres near Sarajevo, as well as the clinic in the city.
Of course, there's also the opportunity to get to know Sarajevo, and beyond, an undeniable draw for a travel nut like me. From speaking to members who'd been, it sounds like a beautiful city, which is gradually but perceptibly rebuilding itself after the devastation of the war. I'm told that the shopping is pretty good as well.
For more information on the Healing Hands Network, you can contact me and I'll do my best to answer your questions, or you can visit their website www.healinghandsnetwork.org.uk.