CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) – Bosnian genocide survivors shared their stories at Dickinson College’s Genocide, Justice and Hope event Saturday.
Organizers say more than 1,500 Bosnian refugees live in central Pennsylvania.
Survivors united and revealed the toughest moments in their lives in an effort to heal and stop history from repeating itself.
They talked about years without running water or electricity, having minimal access to food and mortars destroying homes and human life.
The survivors say the painful memories are impossible to forget.
“Millions of people were forcibly displaced, and about 150,000 people came to the United States,” said Dzemal Crnkic, an event organizer who is the Imam at the B&H Islamic Center of Pennsylvania.
About 400 families made central Pennsylvania their new home.
“I came from Bosnia after the war in 1999 with my family,” said Mersida Candzic, a survivor who now lives in Carlisle.
Everyone’s story of battle and triumph is different.
Almedin Salkic moved here when he was 16 years old.
“We tried to stay in Bosnia as long as possible,” Salkic said. “My mom realized it was not possible.”
The 33-year-old dad now lives in Carlisle. He’s thankful for a better life.
“It gave us the opportunity to go to school,” Salkic said.
The goals of this night were to prompt healing, stand against divisive, dangerous behavior and educate the community.
“A lot of us in Cumberland Valley have Bosnian neighbors, co-workers and classmates,” said Jeff Gibelius, an event organizer from the Second Presbyterian Church in Carlisle. “Through this event, we’re knowing what it took for them to come here.”
“We must cultivate peace and harmony,” said Crnkic.
Salkic encourages people to get to know their neighbors.
“Don’t be afraid to talk to somebody that’s different or that came from a different country because you never know what they went through,” said Salkic.
Dickinson Collge teamed up with the Second Presbyterian Church, Army Heritage Center Foundation, Bosnia & Herzegovina Islamic Center of Pennsylvania and Bosniaks Islamic Cultural Center of Carlisle for this event.