Stories After the Rain

Jun 25, 2014

Representatives of civil society organizations launched a network to exchange experiences and agree on further actions in response to catastrophic floods in BiH

Representatives of forty civil society organisations were welcomed today in the UN House in Sarajevo to share their “stories after the rain”. In mid-May of this year, unprecedented rains hit Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia, resulting in unprecedented flooding in the last 120 years. Many were affected by floods and landslides, leaving them without what they have been building and investing for years, in decades of work and effort put in.

But the water also brought the best to the surface - the people. And the very best in people. There are countless examples of humanity, courage, solidarity, strength, and sacrifice that inundated the media and social networks. The heroes of these stories are the so-called “ordinary people” with extraordinary dedication and solidarity.

In order to honour this very solidarity, and encourage further similar activities, civil society organisations have launched an initiative called Stories After the Rain. Apart from recognition to selfless solidarity and volunteerism of numerous individuals, the objective of this gathering was for participants to exchange experiences, but also to use the gathering as an opportunity for networking between local communities to ensure cooperation in further actions.

In his opening remarks, UN Resident Coordinator in BiH, Yuri Afanasiev stressed that today we celebrate the human in all of us, the incredible qualities, and initiatives of people to help each other when in need. “We celebrate the unsung heroes of floods, all of you, and a thank you to all those here who did not have to, yet they saved lives by risking their own”.

Whether informal, self-organised groups of citizen, individuals, members of mountain rescue service, rafters and kayakers or firefighters, they all rushed to help the most vulnerable, erasing all borders, all differences.

During the event, a selection of 10 stories was presented to illustrate the experiences of citizens who saved lives and helped the population of BIH in flood-affected areas.
“It is stories like these, from disastrous floods, that you will remember for the rest of your life. Thank you for helping us think about how we can collectively scale up the notion of solidarity and humanity”, concluded Afanasiev.

Many formal and informal associations have voluntarily provided assistance in the affected areas, often at the expense of their own resources. As one of the participants pointed out “their actions on the ground have shown that their hearts go to support Bosnia and Herzegovina”.

Finally, participants agreed on citizens' trust in individuals and that it is necessary to support the creation of multidimensional coordination and cooperation mechanisms between government and civil society.

Participants concluded that it is necessary to acknowledge citizens who have selflessly intervened in affected areas, and thus put the emphasis on the culture of activism and solidarity in Bosnia and Herzegovina.