Children do not have time
11 March , evening in Sarajevo, going to the conference with two Save the Children colleagues to the place called Residence Konak. We haven’t heard about the place, but luckily the taxi driver knows and here we are in the building which looks like those Austro Hungarian style monumental houses that you have across Europe.
The conference has a nice and symbolic name Peace and Education and my first thought goes back to the nineties and the events that had nothing to do with the peace.
But here we are, together with 170 participants of the conference coming from various parts of the world. I can hear at least five different languages, including three official ones from Bosnia and Herzegovina. We go upstairs to the main room and after the initial speech by Rewrite the Future representatives and the Norwegian ambassador, there was a speech that instantly grabs my attention.
Nedim Krajisnik, a local NGO youth leader from the Association of High School Students of Bosnia and Herzegovina, starts his speech with simple words that say a lot about the children in Bosnia and Herzegovina, their schooling in schools which doesn’t look like the one their peers in neighbouring countries have. Segregated schools, many different curricula that do not have stuff that children should learn in every country in the world including Bosnia and Herzegovina. Many children do not attend school and many started to go to school at the age of 13, 15, or even 17.
I feel somehow a bitter taste in my mouth and I wish he was wrong. But he is not, and all people present know that. Big applause… for the truth said in not so many words about the issue which will take any child out of poverty and isolation, which will beat any conflict, if we are lucky. You cannot stop thinking about children who are not with us tonight, who will not be in school tomorrow and who are waiting for us, the responsible adults, to work with and behalf of them to do something, to find some way to keep the peace which will make them happy. One of the speakers said tonight “Children do not have time.” True! They don’t!