Poem about (Trying) to Look at Srebrenica


Mavra Bari, a sociologist, writer and communications specialist with a special focus on gender and intersectionality, sustainable urbanism and resource equity particularly in the Global South, decided to write a poem about Srebrenica Genocide.

She served as Director of the US State Department-funded women’s entrepreneurship center – WECREATE Pakistan and represented Pakistan at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2016 in Silicon Valley where former US President, Barack Obama praised the WECREATE project for bringing more women business leaders in the world. Mavra has worked with multiple social impact companies and development organisations in Pakistan, Canada and the Netherlands.

While studying in Amsterdam, she visited beautiful Bosnia and Herzegovina and was invited to the Srebrenica Massacre memorial day. She was shocked to learn about the atrocity and that globally there is not that much awareness regarding it, but was also deeply touched and moved at the moving tributes to the victims and their families. She was also impressed that the government had taken upon itself to map and symbolically remember the victims and tragedies, showing accountability in the face of tragedy.

When so many countries and leaders try to sweep historical atrocities under the carpet, Srebrenica is a world example of how and why such dark parts of history need to be remembered. It is a testament to the human capacity for resilience and hope even in the darkest moments.

The politics and sociology of trauma moved Mavra to write this poem and as an outsider, she tried to bring another perspective. As humans, we all deeply connect to other stories of loss and grief, as these are universal realities but our ways of coping are cultural. Mavra hopes this poem can help bring people some hope and belonging.


(Trying) to Look at Srebrenica

By Mavra Bari

I look outside.

Star speckled dust on velvet tops,

Beacons of life living in windows.

Mothers and fathers brewing on pots,

Daughters and sons dreaming of other places.


I look in.

Speck of dust, flicker of light.

Will Bosnia remember my time,

Probably not, we survive here for our own delight.

Memory makes a sand-washed castle for everyone.


I look around.

Streets are big with buildings without paint.

Graffiti colours with meaning or not,

Nothing to hide years of taint.

Reminders of what had been or a canvas for what comes.


I look far.

Stars do not illuminate the sky,

The moon has fallen to pieces to give light.

Our compasses dug their graves not too long ago,

When children could no longer trust the night.


I look to my hands.

Soft with lines creasing lightly as I clutch,

To not have felt pain or suffering.

Never held another’s hand hard enough,

Can fingernails withstand the weight of bricks being laid?


I look at rubble scribes.

Maddening rows of names etched in limestone,

Pillars erected of the fallen, reaching for the sky.

Shoes of babies, socks of the elderly and passions of everyone in between – just like our own,

Just disintegrated for lines and divides?


I look everywhere.

I find nothing.

This was everything.

This is everything,

But, this is not everyone.

Till you have lost everything.

Persevere still?


Mavra has been project lead for a startup that built a health mobile application for young women in Pakistan called Zoya that leverages smart-phone technology to bridge the health infrastructure gap and de-stigmatize women’s bodies. She has also spearheaded several initiatives trying to make cities more inclusive for all citizens especially slum residents. Her project with school-children in Mehrabadi community was selected as top 50 innovations by the World Economic Forum’s ‘Shaping My City’s Future’ pitching contest and was invited to WEF headquarters to present and discuss the project with founder, Klaus Schwab at the Global Shapers Annual Summit 2018.




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