30 days of Impact – ADRA helps victims of war in Bosnia. #30DaysofImpact
In 1995, Frank Spangler went on a photo and video shoot trip to Bosnia, documenting the work of ADRA Canada in the Bosnian war (1992-1996). He and a colleague, Marija (Maria) Smibert, met with Damir Super, an Adventist pastor turned ADRA worker. Damir drove ADRA trucks of supplies into Mostar and Sarajevo. What follows are excerpts from Frank’s travel journal, riding with Damir in the area around Sarajevo (that city deemed too dangerous to enter at the time).
“The next morning we made contact with the ADRA worker. Damir Super is great!…When passing through the most dangerous areas he was usually able to have the guards at the checkpoints radio ahead to have the troops hold their fire while he drove through but there were several times when he was fired upon. Sometimes it was a matter of just being caught in the crossfire of two opposing sides, but a couple of times he was the actual target. He showed me the bullet holes in one of the trucks.
Marija and I were both amazed at how many people Damir knew along the way. What was even greater was how everyone was always so happy to see him, including many of the check-point guards. Damir is one of those rare Christians that glow from the inside. His eyes twinkle and his face smiles a warm greeting. For these people so shattered and broken by the pain of war, he brought hope and a moment of comfort and cheer with a warm touch, hug or kiss. He gave the same time and attention to children as he did adults. It didn’t matter if they were young or old, attractive or ugly, Muslim, Catholic or Adventist. Everyone was a brother or sister. You could tell by the way that people received him that they knew that his love was genuine. More than once I had the impression that I was in the presence of some kind of angel. At least you knew that this man was filled with the Spirit of Christ.
As a container of medical supplies from ADRA Canada was scheduled to arrive any day in Split (Croatia), Damir was looking for a place where it could be best used. Knowing an Adventist doctor who worked in the hospital in Zanica (Bosnia), Damir made arrangements through him for us to interview the director of the hospital. The director was very happy to see us. This was the only hospital serving a community of 100,000. Many of their supplies were getting very low. While Sarajevo hospitals were receiving regular supplies from the UN and Red Cross, Zanica was getting very little from anywhere. For many months now, the only way that people could get admitted to the hospital to first, on their own, secure all of the medicines that they would need during their stay at the hospital. The container of supplies from Canada should help to relieve that crisis for a while.
We arrived in Dubrovnik (Croatia) at about 11:00 and called the ADRA volunteer. Strianca is a Muslim lady who is studying with Damir and attending church. She has been responsible for coordinating the distribution of wheat flour from ADRA Canada to Bosnian refugee families living in the area. Besides the distribution of flour to about 170 families, a local bakery also takes the ADRA Canada flour and bakes bread that is distributed to orphanages and nursing homes.
Next it was off to an orphanage filled with children, many of whom had lost their parents in the war. I got some great shots of children eating bread from Canada. The orphanage hold children ages 0-16.
Marija had a lot of letters from Canada for people living Sarajevo. Because that city is virtually under siege, there has been no mail service there for the last three or four years. ADRA has provided a real service by setting up a way for mail and packages to get through. Some of the letters that Marija had contained substantial amounts of money that relatives were sending in to help their loved ones buy food and other necessities. Even though I had resigned myself to the fact that I would not be going in
ADRA Canada is still engaged in bringing hope and help to those caught in conflict.