Vermont Folklife Center - Vision and Voice Documentary Workspace
In Their Own Words - homepage

Nedzad & Nevzeta  Bosnia

Nevzeta: It was summer when they drafted Nedzad. We were still thinking that they were going to stop. It's just a joke, you know. We had some army, but it was not enough because a lot of people didn't want to go to war. You have some that had already volunteered, or police that must go, but they didn't have enough people to support the army. Some old people didn't want to go because they are scared, but if they draft you, you must—if you 18 and older—you must go.

Nedzad: After this I went on the line in Bihac, another city that is relatively in the middle part of Bosnia—for nine months. I didn't see any action in these nine months. I started to learn how to play with cards. Usually, when I was on the line everything was quiet. Before that, and after that, a lot of people were shooting with the grenades.

Many times the Serbians stopped—the UN tried to send us food—but they stopped it. Many times they stopped it or they took what they needed to take. We had one liter of vegetable oil, 5 kg of sugar, and I don't know how many kilograms of flour. They give you some cans, but it's not a lot of food. Some stores still had food, but it's a lot of people and after maybe a few months we were out of food. Then the only place to get food was from the UN. People tried to make gardens and tried to prepare some food. You know in summer it's always easy. You have apples, you have everything, but when it's winter, winter is long like in Vermont, and you can't get food.

Life was social until we didn't have food anymore and after that everybody keep apart. You're hungry you know, it's hard. Everybody had somebody they know on the line. It's not easy to wait. We would have no communication, Nedzad would just leave.

Two days on the line—four days home. It needed to be two days on the line, two days at home, and two days to make me ready for the line. I would just leave and spend around 90% of the time walking, 50km. I would go in the morning and come home in the night.

The night that I give birth to my son there was bombing near the hospital. There was bombing the whole night. All night it was just the sirens. There was no electricity. They stopped the electricity because they didn't want them to see us. It was dark, and they gave me my baby, and we went into the hallway and just lay down. We spent the night in the hallway. There were beds, but because of the bombing they thought we would be safer in the hallway. We didn't have medication—no hot water. If there was hot water, they used it for the soldiers. Many soldiers were operated on without anesthesia, and you could hear the screams the whole night.

When I came in from the line and went home—the next day somebody called and said, "You are having a son." It was April 1st and I thought it was a joke because in my country it's the day for joking. So I said, "Okay," smiling. But then my mom called and said, "You're having a son!" The next day I went to the hospital and was watching him sleep.

Actually the radio station, each morning if somebody is born, they called, "Vlatny Llain—Golden Lily." I don't know how to explain it, but they would say, "Oh, today is born another Vlatny Llian," and whoever is the father on the line, they say the name of the wife who gives birth. It's just such happiness that we have boys—especially boys because we lost everyday a lot of soldiers. They say there are nine women for each man in my country, because a lot of them were killed in the war.

website :: studioperdue