Twenty Feet Under

When on May 15, 2014, a cyclone affected a large area of Southeastern and Central Europe, it caused floods and over 1,000 landslides in my homeland, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bosnia was supposed to be a country in transition after the war during the 1990’s that I survived as a child before coming to the United States in 1997. This year, I watched my homeland being swept away once again: this time, by the floods. The disaster displaced 1 million people. It also moved the minefields left behind from the war, as the rain was the heaviest in 120 years of recorded weather measurements.

When people returned to look for their homes, thousands of them were twenty feet under the ground. Some had turned to rubble.

People began digging out their houses because¬≠ they had nowhere else to live. The government’s solution was to ask the people to use the soil that they had removed from the top of their houses and put it on top of the active landslides to prevent further sliding. But because of the continuous raining, this would not stop landslides from occurring.

The cost of the damage to Bosnia and its neighbors is estimated at 1 billion euros. Despite the extensive nature of the damage, the flood united many among the region torn apart by the previous two decades of conflict. People of different religions and ethnicities helped each other evacuate and deliver aid before any organization and governmental institution stepped in.

My goal with this project is to bring awareness to the issue, as the crisis in Bosnia has affected Bosnians throughout the world. The image I took of the boy in front of his destroyed house influenced a group of the diaspora to deliver aid to him and his neighborhood. As a Bosnian-American photojournalist, I feel a great responsibility to promote this issue to encourage more support for Bosnia as it still needs resources to expedite recovery. Being selected for your award will allow me to do this.