“I’m in Nashville, at the airport, and I’m looking, coming out with my son in one hand and one small luggage in the other hand, we didn’t have much [. . .] I took a lot of pictures with me. I know that I can buy all the other material stuff but I cannot buy memories and pictures, so I had those things.” – Sadeta Hodžić, 2016
Facing imminent danger, there was no time to plan and pack. For so many fleeing their homes, they could only grab those few items most precious to them and hope that one day they could return to find the rest. Many families would lose everything, and others would be able to recover some belongings after the war had ended.
Sadeta Hodžić was living in Bratunac in eastern Bosnia and was a senior in high school when the war started in 1992. Describing an act of violence committed in 1991 against her cousin and some friends in the nearby Serbian village of Kravica, she remembers this being her first indication that there were dangerous tensions in the air. She remembers,
“…you could tell something is, you know, something is coming, something is just not right. And then 1992, of course you know, you just heard things happening first in other cities, and people fleeing the towns, and you know, first you see things happened in Slovenia, then you see, see things in Croatia, and you don’t think it’s going to happen to you, but it slowly came over to Bosnia.”
When Sadeta and some of her family members (women and children) decided to flee first to Macedonia and later Germany, it was very crucial to have IDs and passports. As Sadeta remembers,
“ID was your way out, without ID you couldn’t go anywhere.”
With just a few plastic grocery bags filled with her belongings and a passport obtained in Macedonia, Sadeta would make the difficult journey to Germany. After living in Germany for 7 years, though, German refugee regulations meant that Sadeta had to make the tough decision to move on to the United States or be sent back to Bosnia. With just her most precious belongings and her identification papers for her four year old son who was born in Germany, Sadeta was sent to live in Bowling Green, Kentucky, without knowing anyone or what to expect.
Temporary Travel Passport for Denis Hodžić
Temporary Travel Passport created by the International Organization of Migration (IOM) for Denis Hodžić, allowing him and his mother Sadeta to leave Germany for Kentucky in 1999.