** Please note that all the funding will go to the projects that are actively involved in De-mining actions in Croatia. The trip itself is entirely financed by me. I will announce the exact project where the donations will flow to as soon as possible.
I was 4 years old when the war in Croatia started, and 11 years old when it was officially over. I have lived outside of Croatia for about 6 years now, and every time I would mention to someone who hasn't gone through something like it: "we had an ongoing war in Croatia when I was a kid" – they would say something like: “I can’t even imagine how horrible that must have been, I am so sorry”. However, in that particular situation, I have considered myself extremely lucky and I still do so up to date. None of my family members got killed in that war and I was lucky enough to be born and raised in the capital of Croatia; Zagreb. Zagreb, as a capital, was well protected in those times. However, even there we were confronted with the ongoing war.. The very city center of Zagreb suffered a direct air attack in 1993. with so called “bell bombs” that were coming through the air. People died, and others got injured. My brother, a teenager and skater at the time, was skating at the exact place at the time of that attack.. By sliding under a parked van, he managed to save himself from being injured, or worse. That is why I have considered myself extremely lucky.
I do, however, clearly and vividly remember my kindergarten days. All of us were sleeping in the afternoon fully dressed, so we could be ready within seconds on the sound of siren. Hearing the sirens meant we had to run to the atomic shelter a few blocks away. I also vividly remember school days, when I was crying in the atomic shelter of my school because sirens were on, and I knew my dad was probably driving from Slovenia to Croatia at that moment, as he was partially working there. I was 8 years old and I was afraid for him. Other times, when we were all at home and the sirens would go on, we would go towards the basement in our building, to shelter ourselves. My dad would mostly stay at home, being brave, you know, guys. Our dog Buck would often stay with him, too.
Although I came out lucky, I feel that no kid at that age should ever experience that kind of fear, nor should have the memories of their childhood painted in those army colours.
People lost way to much in the war, whole families were ripped apart. People that witnessed scenes that you do not want to hear about. Those stories are truly heart breaking.
And the saddest part is, that today, almost 20 years after the war has officially finished, there are still people, kids especially, in danger by its aftermath. Those tiny human beings were born ages after the war was finished, but that does not make them exempt..
A little bit less than a year ago, I was visiting my hometown. I do visit Croatia very often. I was at home, chatting with my mom and some TV show was on. I don’t remember which program it was, the name of the show, nor anything else specific. We were not really paying attention to it, either. Then, how everything seems to happen for a reason, at one point I started to pay attention to it.
There was this little boy in the woods, probably around 8 or 9 years old, with a TV reporter. It was in Slavonija, which is a part of Croatia. At one point the only thing I hear is a reporter asking the little boy: “So, you go with your father and grandmother into the woods (to pick up different kinds of food) every morning? But you know that it is still dangerous; you know there are a lot of mine fields still there..?” And the little boy replies “Ah yes, I know. But we are really careful, you know. My dad tells us exactly where we can step and which way we should go, we always follow him, you know, walk behind him, to stay safe.”
My eyes filled with tears and my heart broke into pieces.
That innocent, little boy, his life that can be so full of potential, is in danger daily. I found that to be so truly wrong. That boy, nor his dad for that matter, nor his grandmother who probably worked hard her whole life and was lucky enough to survive the war, does not deserve to die by stepping on a landmine while they are just trying to provide some food for their family.
It was then that I decided that I will do what is in my power to help Croatia get cleaned from mine fields. I know it will be a small step, but If we would all do just a small step, big things can be accomplished. So, help me out. Following the info I’ve found, there is still 40 000 unexploded mines in Croatia. It will still take years to clean it…40.000 mines remaining, and we are 20 years past the end of the war..
In August this year, I will attempt to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro via Lemosho route. The whole trip is entirely financed by me and the only thing I want to do is to raise funds and bring more awareness for the immense task that still needs to be undertaken to clean Croatia from landmines.
Please, help me help Croatia! If you are not Croatian, you were maybe visiting Croatia for a holiday and witnessed the beauty of the country (and If you didn’t, you definitely should!). However, with the stories above I would also like to grab your attention for its dark past. Together, we can make it more beautiful - not only the visible part, but also the -too often - invisible part.
Let's make this world, in this case starting with my own country, a safer place. Every single donation, no matter how small, counts and will be received with enormous gratitude.
Also, please share this campaign and spread the word!