I remember travelling to Sarajevo with a small team from Estel Radio in Spring 1996. As a sign of solidarity our objective was to donate a radio transmitter to the city. After our regular flight to Zagreb, an IFOR plane took us on to the Bosnian capital.
We arrived at night. The scant lighting allowed us to glimpse a horrific scene: bombed out, full of rubble… nearby neighbourhoods were also destroyed. The city was full of broken glass, missile craters, dogs with sad eyes, but there was a special celebratory atmosphere after the long nightmare of war.
One afternoon I was talking with my colleague Josep María Rojo in a bar. A man approached us and asked us in English what language we were speaking. We told him we were speaking Catalan and that we were from Barcelona, which he seemed to have heard of because of the Olympic Games. He explained that he was a journalist at the Oslobodenje (Liberation) Newspaper that had been reduced to a pile of twisted metal. The Serbian artillery, which had besieged the Bosnian capital, had succeeded in destroying the headquarters of the newspaper that had not once failed to meet its deadline with its readers.
Oslobodenje went to underground print every night, less copies were printed and text was even written out by hand. The writers themselves were responsible for distributing the paper, five of which ended up dead by the end of the siege suffered by the Bosnian capital. The journalist who talked to us was from Srebrenica and he told us he was on the verge of getting his house back. He knew that buildings were still being burnt to the ground and that he would probably find his house in ruins. I remember saying to him “it must be very hard to return home and find everything destroyed.” He looked deeply at me and said simply “Hard? Take a good look at me, I am alive, nothing is hard”. We will never forget the lesson we learnt that day.