The vision of the War Childhood Museum is to help individuals overcome past traumatic experiences and prevent traumatization of others, and at the same time advance mutual understanding at the collective level in order to enhance personal and social development.”

Civilians made up more than 90 per cent of the fatalities in the wars of the 1990’s, up from 5 per cent at the turn of the last century. The days of warring armies are practically gone. These days the majority of conflicts are long lasting internal conflicts, between military and civilians or between different hostile groups. Both the weapons and the character of these conflicts turns children and civilians into the primary targets. Reading the numbers and the accounts from these conflicts are too much to bear. djecak-web-muzej2Children, sometimes up to half of the victims, are killed or violated as part of the tactics. They are turned into child soldiers, or die from disease and famine. Humanitarian efforts, largely helping children, such as hospitals, schools, relief convoys and health clinics, are now considered targets. (Numbers and facts taken from Graça Machel, The UN Secretary-General’s Expert on The Impact of Armed Conflict on Children, see link to further reading at the end of this text) .

Children who lives through any of this, are left with their childhood robbed and immense psychological and emotional scars. The support system that could have been some help is gone. They have most likely lost most of their family, perhaps their home and country, and missed out on fundamental education.

To tell the stories of the children, the War Childhood Museum opened in Sarajevo in January 2017. The museum has been a dream of Jasminko Halilović, since she met with hundreds of survivors, working on the book: War Childhood: Sarajevo 1992-1995.

Many of participants (sic) described or showed their war memories to me: personal items, photographs, diaries, letters, drawings and other documents. Twenty years after the war, a large number of these were lost /../. My dream was to store these memories in a museum in order to preserve them permanently” – Jasminko Halilović

The museum has just opened, but it wants  more testimonies and objects to preserve and
display. The museum is also asking for people to help them build this important institution and research facility. The museum’s website is beautiful and already full of interesting information, a short documentary about the museum’s work, as well as sobering and uplifting stories. Find out more here.

And please take a little time to find out what is being done in the international community. Visit the UN office for Children and Armed Conflict 

(Image credit and quotes: War Childhood Museum)

Related: † War as a visitor attraction – enticing people to learn the hardest lessons.

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