Bridges of Peace over Neretva

At the 2016 Toronto Metropolis Conference I shared the story ofDocumentaries for Change (DfC), a two-year pilot funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Soon after a young woman approached me asking if I would be willing to connect . Asha Siad, an accomplished documentary storyteller with an Amnesty International award under her wing, was hunting for program design “best practices”. She was about to leave for Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) on a one month teaching engagement.

Mostar! I could hardly believe it. The last time I travelled to Mostar was ages ago. In fact grade 8. In my world, in the early 80’s, an average 14 year old completed at least one trip to the Yugoslavian National Liberation Struggle landmarks of Jajce, Bihać, Drvar and Mostar. I was reminded of the Bosnian literary Nobel Prize winner Ivo Andrić, a true wizard in unpacking the complexities of Muslim, Serbian and Croatian historical identities. To understand the peculiarity of the Bosnian War, one needs to read Ivo Andrić’sThe Bridge on the Drina first. Many bridges, including the Mostar Old Bridge, were heavily destroyed in the war. The Old Bridge was reopened in 2014 thanks to the coalition of influential sponsors (the World Bank, UNESCO, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the World Monuments Fund) that took the trouble of overseeing recovery.