Senada was born in Gorazde, Bosnia and Herzegovina in what was then Yugoslavia, and later moved to Croatia. But when war broke out there in 1992, her parents moved the family to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina—which had declared independence from Yugoslavia. In April 1992, the Army of Republika Srpska (comprised of Bosnian Serbs trying to create a new state) encircled and blockaded the city, the start of an almost four-year siege that would claim, by some estimates, nearly 100,000 civilian lives—and wreak untold psychological havoc.


"I was almost killed by a sniper while carrying water to my family"


“I remember my father coming home one evening with a busload of people. We had a big home. They were refugees; their homes had been taken away. There was shooting in the background. You couldn’t make sense of it; why would your own army turn on you? It would be the equivalent of the U.S. Army attacking its own citizens. There was such confusion.

Two days after the shut down, snipers started shooting at people. Mortars were being launched from the mountaintops into our valley. You’d spend your days in the basement, huddled, sitting for hours on end. Once the shooting stopped at night, people would venture outside and try to find food and water

It was like how people prepare for a hurricane. Whatever dry food you could gather, you’d bring back. After that ran out, we had to get creative. We ate a lot of rice and beans. ... Six months into [the siege], humanitarian aid started coming in. ... A lot of the different religious and caused-based organizations sent food. But even the Red Cross was stopped at checkpoints by the Serbs; they’d take half and let some come in. Their goal was to control the flow of the food. We were dealing with psychological warfare, emotional warfare—and real warfare, where your life was in danger.”



''Stuff that was censored; you didn’t see this on CNN.”


"Milosevic’s goal was to make it seem like a religious war because then the international community would say, ‘We’re not touching that. It’s a time bomb.’ In the end, it was a grab for territory. He didn’t want Croatia, Bosnia or Slovenia to separate; in terms of natural resources, they’re extraordinarily rich. He wanted to keep that as part of his domain. ... He was crazy. He wanted to ethnically cleanse what is now Croatia and Bosnia and have that become greater Serbia. ... At the time, we were asking ourselves these questions. It made no sense. In the basement, where we were huddled waiting for the shooting to stop, you had people from all walks of life. It wasn’t just one group. ... And yet the Army started taking people to concentration camps and killing them. Mass executions. Stuff that was censored; you didn’t see this on CNN.”


"Ingenuity in the face of adversity''

2017-07-07 15_23_25-(8) Ingenuity in the face of adversity _ Senada Adzem _ TEDxBocaRaton - YouTube.png