Guest Article by Midhat Dzihic
In light of World Refugee Day, which was on June 20, I asked friend and executive director, Midhad Dzihic, to write a brief article about Ljiljani Buducnosti. While the literal translation of liljan is fleur-de-lis, its symbolic meaning has been rooted in religion and politics throughout time. In the context of the humanitarian organization, its literal translation is fleur-de-lis of the future, and it is rooted in the effort to facilitate post-conflict and disaster recovery in Bosnia.
Ljiljani Buducnosti is a non-for-profit organization based in Minneapolis with the primary focus on facilitating post-conflict and disaster recovery in Bosnia. While recently founded and operating on a small scale, it provides assistance to civilians in terms of food, clothing, and any other supplies that are otherwise necessary for daily living.
Yugoslavia was a region once admired for its ethnic and religious diversity (as Orthodox Serbs, Catholic Croats, and Bosnian Muslims lived together peacefully. While subjective experiences and opposing historical accounts make it difficult to describe the events leading to war, I will start with the death of Josip Broz Tito. As leader of the Yugoslavian Partisans, Tito suppressed the voicing of ethnic and religious sentiments in an “icebox of communism” (Jones, 2013, p. 84). After Tito’s death in 1980, multiple leaders began to rotate in an unstable presidency selected by six republics and two autonomous regions. Instability in the region increased when Croatia and Slovenia proclaimed their independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 with support from Germany. The United States and European Union followed by recognizing Bosnia as an independent entity.
The disintegration of previous nation states within the former Yugoslavia fueled Serb aggression. Violence in the region finally prompted the United Nations to impose a no-fly zone and deploy peacekeepers. In response to a Serb attack that killed 68 civilians, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization issued an ultimatum of tactical air strikes if the Serb military did not withdraw heavy weapons from United Nations monitored exclusion zones. In response to this preeminent warning, the Serb military brutishly executed 8,000 Bosnian Muslims (United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, n.d.) in the municipality of Srebrenica. A crude act of genocide, and clear violation of Geneva Convention wartime rules, this act prompted an intensive month-long bombing campaign of Serb territory. A cease-fire agreement eventually led to peace talks between leadership of the Orthodox Serbs, Catholic Croats, and Bosnian Muslims. The Dayton Agreement, as it is known, was signed in 1995 and redefined the former Yugoslavia into the nine separate entities of today.
As a recent high school graduate, I was determined to make a difference not only in the country where I was born but also where my, and others’, heritage remains. While initially unsure of how to help, one day I accidentally came across Istina TV or Truth TV, an organization in Bosnia. As a non-for-profit that is a bridge between local citizens and international humanitarian organizations, I reached out to see whether they would be interested in partnering. Unaware at a time, a partnership quickly flourished. In the past year, Ljiljani Buducnosti in collaboration with Istina TV, has been able to send approximately $2,000 USD to supply 25 families with basic living necessities.
While this has been a success, the need is ever more increasing. While a donation of $100 USD can provide a family meals and hygiene products for an entire month, anything and everything helps.
In an increasingly globalized society in which everyone is interconnected through relationships, human suffering is universal.