is a sweet, smiling eleven-year-old who likes soft toys and comic
books. If you saw her playing with her sister Shehida, you might think
she did not have a care in the world.
But Izmira and her
family have experienced a traumatic decade. In July 1995 her father was
killed in the Srebrenica massacre, along with her uncle, grandfather
and 8,000 other Bosnian Muslim men. They were imprisoned and executed
during a week of bloodshed and their bodies were hidden in mass graves.
Most of their remains are still undiscovered.
A green marker similar to this one now
marks the grave of Izmira’s father. Her grandfather and uncle are still
the last decade or so the surviving widows, including Izmira's mother
and grandmother, gradually lost hope of seeing their husbands again.
Like thousands of other families, they submitted blood samples for DNA
analysis to help identify bodies discovered in mass graves.
a decade of waiting, Izmira’s father was identified amongst some
exhumed bodies in early 2005. He was only 22 years old when he died and
Izmira was just two months old. Their tragic reunion took place in
Srebrenica on the 10th anniversary of the massacre. Izmira’s family
were among thousands of distraught relatives who gathered to bury their
Izmira’s drawing of a house. Her father was a builder, and Izmira dreams of living in a nice house.
the war, Izmira’s family left their home in Srebrenica and sought
refuge in Sarajevo. They took shelter in an abandoned apartment.
However, after the war the Serb owner returned to sell his property,
and Izmira's family were evicted once again.
in Srebrenica had been burnt to the ground, and the horror of the
massacre left them too afraid to return. Izmira’s family had nowhere to
go but were determined to solve their housing crisis. They decided to
borrow money from their friends and buy an apartment in Vogosca,
Sarajevo – a district where many other Srebrenica refugees live.
Struggle to Survive
Izmira and her sister keep their schoolbooks in this old fridge.
and her sister Sehida now live with their mother, grandmother and aunt
in a small two-roomed flat which is barely furnished. It has one
wardrobe and two sofas. The girls keep their schoolbooks in an old
broken refrigerator, as there is nowhere else to store them.
family of five survive on the small state widow's pension they receive
each month. Their loan repayments mean that they can barely make ends
meet, but they are grateful to finally have a permanent roof over their
Shehida is very protective of her younger sister, Izmira.
Izmira and her sister, Shehida, were too young to remember their
father, they are still moved to tears whenever he is mentioned. The
pain of his absence in their lives is very real.
despite the tragedy in her life, Izmira remains a cheerful child.
Whenever her mother and sister recall the war and begin to cry,
Izmira’s eyes also fill with tears but she keeps smiling, hoping to
cheer everyone up.
Izmira’s dream is to become a
teacher, while Shehida wants to be a paediatrician. Izmira works hard
at school and gets good grades. At home, she helps her mother with
housework. She is a popular child who has many friends, and says she
would like to have friends from every country in the world.
A Brighter Future
Izmira dreams of a bright future, as she sits in the Bosnian Orphan Officer’s car
has already made one international friend. A donor from the UK sponsors
her through Islamic Relief's Orphan Sponsorship Programme. The
sponsorship money helps to pay for Izmira's basic needs such as food,
healthcare and schoolbooks.
Islamic Relief currently
supports over 740 orphans in Bosnia. The tragic consequences of the
Srebrenica Massacre will continue to haunt the orphans and widows of
Srebrenica for many years. Through its sponsorship programme, Islamic
Relief is committed to helping orphans like Izmira lead a better life.