In 1994, Anna Nilsson Spets read in the newspaper about a project to support women affected by the war in Bosnia & Herzegovina. The initiative was taken by Kvinna till Kvinna, which called on volunteers to assemble support packages for female refugees in the country.
Anna recounts how the newspaper article she read, resulted in a massive responsive, with many volunteering to help. She thinks the fact that the war was so close to home was one of the reasons why so many people joined the initiative.
“Everyone was affected by the war in one way or another. Many felt greatly for the people they had once met during travels in the Balkan. The large influx of refugees also made people want to do something to help out.”
The packages were filled with everything from toiletries, menstrual pads and toothbrushes, to hard-to-come-by-goods like candles, for when there was no electricity. Each package also contained a little personal note.
“The notes included messages of hope for a better future and reconciliation between family members. That was perhaps the most important part of all: sending these messages of peace,” recalls Anna.
Months later, Anna received a thank-you letter in return, hand-written in Bosnian. The letter was sent by the woman who had received Anna’s package. She wrote about her life at the time of the package, and about her family. The letter even included a picture.
After the initial project, Anna continued to help out Bosnian families by volunteering in other support projects. She even travelled to Croatia to work in a refugee camp, where she remembers being impressed by the women in the camp.
“I was fascinated by these women’s ability to keep a straight back despite the difficult circumstances. With what little they had, they did everything they could to maintain their personal integrity.”