In Mostar 1998

Travel report October 1998

 

After I had been without company in Mostar three times I was glad to introduce a new colleague this time. The trip itself always is a very intense experience being confronted to myself, but I am very glad to be able to share the misery and all the horrible stories, to exchange experiences, at home I can’t talk to anybody about it. What a happy coincidence that we have known each other for a long time, have shared many experiences, we know we get along well even in closest proximity.

We start in Düsseldorf by Air Bosnia to Sarajevo. Air Bosnia is Bosnia’s airline. It is known for being helpful and cooperative, due to frequent travelling we get a 20% discount, recently even 30%, on rates which are low anyway. Who would not bite the bullet and travel by old, discarded, adventurous planes of Russian origin?

Admittedly, it sometimes is difficult. Like this time: my colleague Elke suffers from latent fear of flying, which is not eased by seeing and entering this plane. The interior is poorly repaired. Today the weather is not fortunate, it is raining cats and dogs in Germany, there is a dense cloud cover. Shaking and vibrating we get into the air and unfortunately have to stop over at Stuttgart. Approaching Sarajevo it even gets worse: we get caught in a thunderstorm. I try to remove nauseating tension by telling trivial stories.

Despite the shaking our pilot manages to touch down quite smoothly in Sarajevo. Well, it still is Sarajevo although Mostar’s airport has been repaired. But unfortunately the parties cannot come to an agreement about control over the airport. Therefore, only intermittent departures and arrivals occur in Mostar.

We are greeted by torrents of rain, so our trip to Mostar takes four hours, going at 40 km/h. When we reach Mostar, it is already dark and we feel knocked out. Nusret is conscience-stricken when showing us next day’s schedule. Knowing that Elke is an experienced homeopathist, he had bowed to the patients’ pressure and fully booked our week. Usually, new colleagues are meant to sit in and adjust for a couple of days.

But things develop differently: the rain continues, due to missing canalization some of Mostar’s streets have turned into torrents, some flats have drowned, also our landlady’s. She lives directly underneath our flat. Many people do not risk to get to our practice. So only half of the scheduled patients come today. Lucky Elke, who now can get used to the stories and work with a translator.

We use our lunch break for stretching our legs, I show Elke the town. I have been here regularly for two and a half years, for me it is interesting to see the town by the view of somebody visiting for the first time. Many things have changed. Reconstruction work is done undiscouragably. Here and there Mostar blossoms in wonderful new colors which give an idea of the past condition. In both parts energy and water supplies are reliable, street lights are in working order, so that we don’t have to stumble in pitted roads.

And the peope? A depressive constitution has established among the people. They got used to peace but there is a lot of frustration. Nothing seems to change: there is not enough work, and salaries are not high enough to feed the family and pay the high rent. Important demands of the Dayton Agreement have not been met yet, consequently refugees from the surrounding are still populating the town. In addition, refugees return or are sent back from abroad. They stay in towns like Mostar because security in their home towns can not be granted. We sometimes hear that the refugees’ houses in occupied towns are blasted down when their owners plan to return.

Our patients tell us about the inhuman system of deportation. For example, a Bosnian man just under 60 years saw us in August. In Germany he underwent abdominal surgery due to suspected cancer. He obtained colostomy and urostomy. No cancer was found. Usually ostomies are replaced under these circumstances.

Before this could be done he was sent back. In Mostar he had to realize that no stoma bags are available. He could not afford surgery in Sarajevo, so he had to wash and reuse his bag again and again. Elisabeth Godfrin, his attending therapist, was shocked and ashamed of this inhuman bureaucracy in Germany.

It was obvious that this man would soon suffer from sepsis, with or without homeopathy. Usually we do not organize such goods because we experienced this is a bottomless pit which exceeds our potential and is not our aim. In this case compassion won and we managed to obtain the required bags. 

It was a new situation for me to work with even more people in the practice: every day one of our students joins and records anamnesis. I have to restructure my work so that there is enough time to answer the students’ questions.

I was delighted to respond to attentive and intelligent comments and to see the students’ enthusiasm. We’ve got a big step closer to our aim.

 

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Bosnia i Hercegovina - Bosnia and Herzegowina

Federal Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Capital: Sarajevo

Area: 51.197 square kilometers

Inhabitants: about 4 700 000

Independence

In March 1992, 99.4% voted in favour of national sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This referendum was largely boycotted by the Serbs, turnout of voters was 63%.

Consequently, the country declared its leaving the federation of Yugoslavia and since then has been an independent republic. International recognition was gained on April 17, 1992.

Three years of war between Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian groups followed. The war was terminated by the Dayton Agreement, reached in 1995 in Dayton, USA, and formally signed on December 14 in Paris. It founded the State of Bosnia-Herzegovina.