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If a peaceful future seems impossible, working to make it happen is necessary

My name is Davide, I am 24 years old and I was born in Vicenza, a small town in Northern Italy famous for its Renaissance architecture. It may sound silly to you but being born in Vicenza in 1997 was crucial to be who I am today: a student of Human Rights and Multilevel Governance with a particular interest in the Balkans and migration. If you are wondering why, well, read on!

In 1997 the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina was officially over, but the situation for civilians was still very dramatic. Thus, my parents decided to join Insieme X Sarajevo (Together for Sarajevo), an association committed to welcoming children from Sarajevo in Italy as a way to shelter from the longest siege in recent history (a dramatic record beaten a few years later by the siege of Aleppo, in Syria). So, my family began hosting a little boy named Suvad from one of the most damaged neighborhoods in Sarajevo. Needless to say it didn’t take long for us to grow up like brothers.

In fact, Bosnia entered so much into my life that in the summer of 2014 I decided to travel there. Upon my arrival in Sarajevo, I immediately realized how much I had bonded with the city over the years, a feeling that pushed me to tell the story of "my Bosnia” by taking as many pictures as possible. This was a decisive experience for my life choices. As soon as I was back in Italy an association reached out to me offering to finance the creation of a book about what I had witnessed through photos and short interviews I had collected. That's how I self-published “Frammenti”, with the aim of sharing "fragments" of the daily lives of people still dealing with the drama of the conflict.

Davide in Erbil (IRQ)

Travelling through Bosnia and Herzegovina gave me the opportunity to get in touch with people from very different backgrounds, awakening in me the desire to deepen the complexity of the world through the stories of those who have suffered violations on their skin. Think of the many civilians stranded in besieged Sarajevo, at the mercy of snipers and bombings, or the women of Srebrenica who lost loved ones because of ethnic cleansing and still struggle for justice today. Think of the people stuck in concentration camps because of their ethnicity or religion. Think about the bombing and destruction of the Old Bridge in Mostar, a symbol of unity between the "Croat" and "Muslim" sides, or the prize money awarded to drunken mercenaries for every time they shot a child in Sarajevo (“smaller the target, higher the prize”, they said).

Returning to my daily life after facing these stories was not easy, but the trip to Bosnia was only the beginning.

In fact, that experience introduced me to a group of young people who had made a trip very similar to mine. It was then that I met the association Non Dalla Guerra (Not from War), which works in Jordan to support education for Syrian or Iraqi refugees and vulnerable Jordanians through various projects. In 2018 I decided to volunteer in the Middle East with them. getting in touch with Arab and Muslim culture, customs and traditions, which have always fascinated me, not to speak of the many families of refugees or asylum seekers I had the chance to meet. Most of them were Syrian-Muslims who fled because of the civil war that began after the repression of the peaceful uprisings in 2011 by the government of Bashar al-Assad, but in Jordan many Christian families fleeing from Iraq were also welcomed because of the violence perpetrated by the Daesh terrorist group.

Back in Italy I decided without hesitation to actively participate in Non Dalla Guerra, becoming responsible for projects of peace education and human rights. I also decided to start studying Arabic in view of my next trip that, in 2019, brought me to the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan together with an Italian NGO. There I had the opportunity to see even more closely the effects of years of conflict and human rights violations, entering some refugee camps for Syrians and talking with a lot of people.

Davide in informal refugee camp (JO)

At this time, I must admit that I feel a bit uncomfortable talking about my experiences: many people have done much more useful things than me, but this is my story and the reason why I decided to "do something". I chose to inform myself and get to know these realities up close to be able to talk about them and make more and more people aware. This is why I organize projects and workshops in schools with "Non Dalla Guerra" to meet more than two thousand students every year and why I was part of the project for the realization of the short film THE GAME, where I was interviewed to talk about the Balkan route.

Over the years I have been able to deepen all that I have witnessed during my travels and I realized that if imagining a future of peace seems impossible today, working so that it can be realized for future generations is necessary. It is an effort we must all make!

The challenge may seem daunting but, as it was for me, it had a very simple start. Just ask yourself: what can I do?

Written by Davide Travaglini

Edited by Alex Frattin

Pictures courtesy of Davide Travaglini & Massimo Mucchiut


Davide Travaglini is a 2nd year HRG student passionate about Western Balkan and migrations, human rights, and post-conflict issues.

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