The Rebirth Project

I spent years documenting the aftermath of Bosnia-Herzegovina. I’d go inside natural pits to photograph how people search for bones. I documented a community looking for their loved ones on dry beds of a lake. I spent a decade speaking to immigrants and refugees only in a language we can understand, our emotions. Then I sort of diminished from the photo world. Or the world of these hard-heartfelt stories. I didn’t stop photographing, but I returned to Bosnia because I felt the need to slowly start showing the other side of my homeland: its mountains.

I started hiking.

For the world outside Bosnia, this is a normal sport and something that has become quite common. But, I walk on the mountains that wars have been fought on, yet with many others, we live beyond Bosnia’s past.

Though, I am sure, a decade ago, I would have written of the dangers of visiting our mountains due to the mines left from the 90s war. And the war before that, and the First World War. But I am lucky to have discovered Bosnia beyond. For years, my country was angry, or influenced by the politicians who constantly use our past to divide us. No, I’ll never forget the war I survived, or the images my colleagues photojournalists made while risking their own lives here. Or the the aftermath and deep scars of people who let me in their lives.

But what would I proudly say of Bosnia today?

It is that in our hiking boots, we’d fight, but one for another, trying to save each other from falling, or from some wild animal. Because it is those steps on the way to the mountain, that we leave division behind. And these steps are not just steps, they are leading us to unity that creates better and healthier mindsets of tomorrow.

Welcome to Bosnia-Herzegovina, again.

Or as I like to call this, The Rebirth Project.

Arnela Satrovic. Vlasic Mountain, Travnik.

The first mountaineering tourist organization was formed in 1892 after the Austro-Hungarian influence in Bosnia, and they marked our trails, which is how we got the red and white marks that resemble the Austrian flag. In 1927, Mountaineering Society was formed in Travnik, and that is where the life of one of the oldest mountaineering societies in Bosnia and Herzegovina begins.

In the last few years, this sport tremendously became popular. Only in my hometown of 100,000 people, twelve mountain associations exist. One celebrates 70th birthday this March (PD TAJAN LISAC). One of the youngest associations in town is the one I like to call a movement instead. It’s VEDRO. The youngest, yet the most influential than any other mountain association in our hometown and perhaps around Bosnia.

Amel Selimovic, former president of mountain association VEDRO in Zenica.
Adis Hrnjic with daughter Medina on mount Pepelari.
Hiking the old village of Lukomir. VEDRO association.
Mount Konj.
Mateo Susic, mount Cvrsnica.
VEDRO association on mount Vlasic.
VEDRO association hiking mount Treskavica.
Mateo Susic relaxing while Amer Kaknjo, Azra Kasap, and Dina Sulovic are encouraging Affan Kaknjo to get up and finish the route.
Haris Adilovic returning home from mount Smetovi.