Archive for March, 2013

“My Two Decade War”… a presentation to 165 year 9 children of All Saints Catholic College

Posted in Sarajevo with tags on March 19, 2013 by vic

on 6th March I received an email from Alison Garner, a teacher whom I met in Sarajevo for the first time last Summer at a children’s riding camp in the mountains of Kakrinje where we were volunteering… here’s the gist..

“My y9 students are doing a project on conflict poems and have looked at poems from WW1 as well as ‘Out of the Blue’ by Simon Armitage (about 9/11). We’ve talked about the damaging psychological effect of war/conflict on military personnel but, having been fortunate enough to have no first hand experience of this myself, I can’t really get across how terrible these experiences are. That’s where you come in! Would you be able to come in and talk to them about your experiences in Bosnia? ”

Although Alison was unaware, as I received the email I myself had been suffering acute symptoms of ptsd since early 2011 (some 16 months) and was just about to attend a Paradigm Change Programme at at a time when I felt there was no help for “someone like me” having ALMOST given in to my nightmares and flashbacks of almost 20 years of ineffective NHS treatment and having been told by Combat Stress that “you are too acute for us to take you”… I was taking the coward’s way out.  Talking2minds support SAVED MY LIFE… no more no less.

So, this invitation encouraged me to “speak out” about my illness to raise awareness… Here’s what happened… a 1 hour film presentation which I hope will provoke thought and response from every one of the kids who listened so attentively….

On the seat of each child was a small slip of paper that Alison had prepared… each bore the name of a child who lost their life in the siege of SREBRENICA, Bosnia Hercegovina.

As the children poured into the assembly room chatting and distracted I shouted… “QUIET”

and said:  “on each of your chairs is a slip of paper bearing the name of a child of your age who lost their life in Srebrenica, one of the worst genocides in modern history.  Please take it, write your name on it, put it in your purse/wallet.  Now you are connected.  Please pray for the child with whom you are now connected, tonight and always”.

The kids sat quickly… and in silence.

On the back of each chair in the assembly hall Alison had also stuck an extract of my first ever poem “My Two Decade War”.  About my own personal battle with an illness I didn’t ask for, but am PROUD of the reason I have it.  I bore witness to the horrors and atrocities of War in Sarajevo and have witnessed it’s aftermath for the past 18 years.  A war that could have been stopped much sooner.

I make this post to raise awareness of the amazing work of talking2minds and ask you to consider donating to support them in saving the lives of those who didn’t die in our war.  Yet we continue to fight our own war… our memories, memories created so that YOU can sleep safe at night.

Much more needs to be done for my comrades, many whom, like me, suffer a disease like cancer, yet it doesn’t kill… until you kill yourself with the potential, for some, to harm others without the right help.

I also have a “closed” Facebook group, PHOENIX RISING, offering mutual support, healing and a channel for sufferers of ptsd to getting the right treatment… “Shift Happens” and “Together We are Stronger”.  Look me up on Facebook or YouTube if you wish to join PHOENIX RISING or need help/support with ptsd.