|Daniel, his wife, Marina, and their daughter, Dalia|
We waited for this unknown patron of ours by the river, listening to the muezzin's call to prayer over on the Bosnian side. I had to smile as I hadn't heard this sound since Morocco, nine months ago, and I had to smile even more as I was hearing this call in Europe, in a place where this sound had almost been eradicated 20 years previously.
Daniel, Marina, and their daughter, Dalia, arrived later, helping us to find a place to camp along the river. The Una River was named by the Romans as being THE river; it is still a clear, clean and beautiful river worthy of the name. During their visit, Daniel explained he had been involved in projects aimed at reconciliation between Bosnian Serbs and Croatians, projects that had caught the attention of peace communities like Tamera, in Portugal, which sent representatives in 2003 to learn from Daniel and his colleagues.
|Alen and Daniel|
Their family had moved from Kostajnica to Bihac, in Bosnia, hoping to avoid the impact of the impending war. Instead, they found themselves in the middle of it, holing up in their basement as mortar rounds fell around their house, killing and maiming friends. Alen, who was only 11 at the time, was afraid to leave the basement the first month, but later got used to the war, playing football with his friends whenever there was a pause in the mortar attacks. Once, Alen got his hands on some smoke grenades and he and his friends lit them and used them as footballs.
On another occasion, Alen hunted a neighbor's chicken with a home made bow and arrow. He proudly displayed it to his mother, who angrily made him throw it away; she was afraid the family would suffer for his stealing the chicken. When his father got home, he angrily had Alen find the chicken, stating that food shouldn't be thrown away when everyone was so hungry. That night the chicken fed eleven people. Alen also traded with UN soldiers in the Black Market, bringing home cigarettes and tinned beef. He has since put on weight and become a cook, telling me he decided after the war he would never be hungry again.
Daniel was older when the war started, and not long after the first mortar rounds fell, he was given a WWII German automatic rifle. He served in the army until a UN convoy was able to bring he and his family to Zagreb, where Daniel studied at university.
After the war the family returned to Kostajnica, occupying a vacant house for a time before finding a permanent home.
What is most remarkable about this story is that Daniel has devoted his years after the war to peacemaking in spite of the hardship he and his family suffered. Both he and Marina are examples for all of us to follow.
|Across the Una River and into Bosnia|
|At the border|
|A republic within a nation; Republika Srpska|
|The mosque in Bosanska Kostajnica, just across the river|