A Mid and East Antrim student has addressed an influential gathering at the Houses of Parliament on her ‘truly life-changing experience’ visiting the site of one of the world’s worst genocide atrocities.
Clare McIntosh, who was one of 17 young people from the borough to travel to Bosnia as part of a conflict transformation initiative, funded by the PEACE IV programme, supported by Council, and organised by Remembering Srebrenica UK.
On Tuesday night, the 19-year-old was an invited guest at the launch of Remembering Srebrenica’s 2020 theme, ‘Every Action Matters’, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide.
The Westminster event was attended by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Rt. Hon. Robert Jenrick MP, and Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, President of Remembering Srebrenica, among other distinguished guests.
In her address, Clare told how the group of young people from Mid and East Antrim visited the city of Sarajevo last year and met with the Mothers of Srebrenica, who had lost sons, husbands and other males relatives in the genocide.
Speaking at the event, Clare said: “These women are some of the most formidable women that I have, and will ever, meet. Their courage and spirit inspire me to this day and their simple fragments of advice are words that I will never forget.”
She added: “I believe my generation has a greater responsibility to actively learn about these past atrocities and events and the lessons of Srebrenica serve as a stark reminder as to what can happen when hatred is allowed to flourish unchecked.
“This programme has provided me with the unique opportunity to broaden my knowledge as there is much learning between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Northern Ireland as two societies still emerging from conflict, trying to make power-sharing work and dealing with many outstanding legacy issues.”
Srebrenica UK’s 2020 theme has been designed to inspire individuals to “critically engage with and change their own behaviour” and to dispel the notion that “one person cannot make a difference”.
Amil Khan, the organisation’s Director, said at the launch of the latest phase of the conflict transformation initiative being delivered in conjunction with Council:
“Northern Ireland and Bosnia have many things in common, not just that they are both regions coming out of the conflict but they have warm and friendly people who are proud of their home. They also know how fragile peace can be.
“Managing diversity in a changing world is as critical in Bosnia and Srebrenica as they are in Northern Ireland, Ballymena, Larne or Carrickfergus.”
The programme will recruit a further 20 young leaders from within the borough in Spring of this year and will culminate in a commemoration event in July to mark the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide.
Match funding for the programme has been provided by the Executive Office in Northern Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland.
The third and final Information Workshop on the next phase of the project takes place tomorrow, Thursday 13 February at 6.30 pm in the Dobbs Room, Carrickfergus Town Hall.
If you would like to learn more about getting involved in the initiative, please email firstname.lastname@example.org