blog posts from GYC's participants, alumni, & staff
By Maja Pecanac (Bosnian delegate to Rwanda)
Everything I saw and experienced in Rwanda was garbled in my head. Genocide. Poverty. Reconciliation. Post-war development of the country. Progress. At one point I asked myself why do I feel so natural, so acclimated to a country that is located on a different continent from that upon which my country lies. Is Rwanda my alter ego African country? Is Rwanda another name for Bosnia?
And then I realized. Rwanda is Bosnia, Bosnia is Rwanda. Two genocides, but in fact one.
History is so similar that at times I felt an even physical connection to that country — that dust, those dead bodies to whose skulls and bones we paid our respect at memorial centers. Although I have never been in Srebrenica and Potocari in Bosnia-Herzegovina — now, after a visit to the tombs of Rwanda, I have been. Because – how many mass graves has one to visit in order to understand that there is no number that can count those souls? How many to realize that it is not the number 8372, it is not the number of 800,000, it is not six million, it’s not 11,541, but it is one man, after another one, after another one, after another one. …
That is the principal lesson that societies like Bosnia and Herzegovina and Rwanda have to learn. That such dreadfulness cannot happen again. Ever! Us, young human rights activists have to make sure that it stays that way!
On one side sat 19-year-old from Kigali, on the other side myself, a 28-year-old from Sarajevo. And we cried. As soon as we met, we were pushed into the abyss of the fate of a million people killed in a hundred days. We stood in Kigali memorial center dedicated to 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. And we carried and embraced eachother, walking together further. Next to every picture of people killed in the Rwandan genocide, I saw pictures of Srebrenica, Sarajevo, Bosnia. We were talking to each other about the horrors we have witnessed, horrors of we have heard about. Continuing our sad procession, we came to the part of the memorial center dedicated to genocides throughout history that was repeating in the world. Aisles devoted to the Holocaust, Cambodia, Armenia, Darfur, Bosnia and Herzegovina … Pictures of my hometown sprinkled with blood, images of war criminals, the image of my country ruined and raped. In Kigali, capital of Rwanda in East Africa, I stood and wondered how far I have to go away to leave these images behind …
Murakoze cyane Rwanda!
 The Srebrenica massacre, also known as the Srebrenica genocide, was the July 1995 killing of more than 8,000Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims), mainly men and boys, in and around the town of Srebrenica during the Bosnian War
 The Srebrenica Genocide Memorial, officially known as the Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial and Cemetery for the Victims of the 1995 Genocide, is the memorial-cemetery complex in Srebrenica set up to honor the victims of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide.