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Vukovar – a good lesson for all of us


Narrow streets, neat houses, blooming trees around and also people – always polite and smiling to you. And as the most beautiful diamond in the crown – magnificent Danube is caring its water, creating the natural border between Croatia and Serbia. That’s Vukovar – a beautiful city in Eastern Croatia. Now it seems that silence and peace lived here forever, but the traces from bullets on some walls are telling us the other story… The story about pointless hatred and cruelty; the story about the destroyed houses and the broken lives; the story about the burned trees and the devastated souls. It’s a sad story, which plenty people want to forget. At the same time, it’s a good lesson for all of us.

That’s why 24 young persons from 14 countries came together in Vukovar – in the city that was completely destroyed during the war, and after was reborn as phoenix from the ash. Representatives of different countries and cultures, we spent whole week working together, learning together, and trying to understand each other for avoiding the repeating of history. Youth workers from Serbia and Croatia, Ukraine and Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, FYROM/Macedonia and Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, also youngsters from Kosovo, Lithuania, Holland, Bosnia and Herzegovina participated in TC “Excuse me, is this hate yours?” Despite of many conflicts that our countries had in the past or even have in the contemporary history, we were the one family for that week; a lot of us became the friends for rest of the life.

Time in Vukovar became a great experience for me. It helped me realize many things…Things that I knew before, but never had feeling that it’s touching me. For example, Balkan conflicts were no more than a page of the historical book, not really old, yet history. It seemed to be in the other part of Earth till I went there and read names of murdered patients on the wall of the hospital, till I talked to the people, who experienced this or another war. Now I clearly understand that problems of my country are not unique. Tears of victims of the war filled not only mines of Donbas (Industrial region in Eastern Ukraine where war is currently going on), but Danube became salty from tears too. Everywhere the war brings the same result. And no matter where it’s going on – all human beings are responsible, all human beings are involved. Golden words: “Don’t ask for whom the bells tolls, it tolls for you” (John Donne). We are one, we share the same planet. Yeah, we are different in our customs and religions, but it’s not making us enemies. Only will of few people, who have power to make policy and our blindness can make us hate each other. Our cooperation during the training in Croatia shows that we all can be tolerant and friendly, we all can manage our conflicts without rough strength. The war is not what people want to start, but what people dream to finish.  

Participation in the training in Vukovar helped me to see wider. And what is the most important, now I consider Vukovar as a symbol not a war, but revival. It shows that “life after death” really exists. That small Croatian city gave me a hope. The hope to rebuild cities and villages which were destroyed. The hope to grow up new generation of people, who will be able to live in peace no matter what. Some strange thought came to my head, if Vukovar was the whole world, it would be the happiest world ever - place where people remember lessons of history. It’s a question without answer but still: “How many people should die, until we will stop starting meaningless wars, that bring nothing except suffer and bitter disappointment? Where is the limit of deaths, which can force us to learn and respect the history?” I believe Vukovar taught something each of us. The main lesson for me: “We can not change the past, but we are creators of the future”. I hope it would be the future without any war!            

Tetiana Boiko,

 Participant from Ukraine

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