Zrinka Bralo an interview
Q: If you could describe your work with one word, what would that word be?
Which is the biggest challenge in your field these days?
My biggest challenge is to organise migrants and refugees into powerful and organised movement that would stand up for justice and dignity against manufactured fear and prejudice. Many refugees and migrants are so oppressed in their countries of arrival that they are afraid to speak up and without them we can never create proper moment for change. I want to create community of empowerment and safety for migrants and refugees to speak out and counter the fear and myths that are leading the Europe into harsher and more inhumane policies and overall intolearance towards the ‘other’.
Q: What is the biggest sacrifice you have had to make?
I live in harmony with my choices and do not feel that I made sacrifices. I experienced hardship that was result of circumstances I found myself in such as war and exile, that took away internationality of sacrifice from me because it left with no choice about being separated from the people I love. That was hard.
I believe that I made the best out of the hand that was dealt to me and reflect on my experience as a survivor rather than a victim.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I hope to be part of progressive movement for better society and doing something useful to end injustice, restore human dignity and hopefully have fun in the process.
Q: Who would you say is your mentor?
I was lucky that when I was 19 years old I started working at the Radio Sarajevo and was mentored by my editor Boro Kontić, superb professional, politically progressive, values driven, independent, clever, feminist and great human being. I still keep in touch with him and I still learn from him. I learned from him the importance of learning from other people around me and as a result I have many mentors and I am learning all the time. At the moment I am learning how to grow old as a woman from Edna O’Brien who is 85 and just pushed a new novel.
Q: Who is your greatest hero?
I don’t believe in heroes. My heroes are not people on the pedestal, but people who inspire me to think:” I want be able to that and how can I be like you.” I admire all kinds of people and they are ordinary and extraordinary at the same time because they are taking a stand for justice, freedom, dignity and common good, sometimes at great personal risk and cost and sometimes just because they can. They range from artists such as Ai Weiwei and Banksy to people like Edward Snowden or women like Shirley Chisholm, Hannah Arendt, Claudia Jones, Edna O’Brien or Leymah Gbowee. Many of my heroes are people I work with, refuges and migrants who are struggling against the cruel system with dignity and resilience that is truly inspiring. The list is too long and at different times I will draw inspiration from different people’s courage to speak out and do the right thing.
Q: If you had the chance to ask only one thing from the world leaders, what would that be?
I am very angry with so called World leaders because of their inaction on refugee crisis so I would find it very difficult to take to any of them right now. I would probably just attack them for their lack of leadership, lack of courage, lack of care for the vulnerable and lack of vision for the better future. I would very much like to ask them to stop making the mess of the world, have faith in humanity, involve women and young progressive people in the search for solutions for the better future. After all young people are the future and should have a say in how it is being shaped for them.
How can the world we live in become a better place?
We don’t have much time left to save our environment. Our dominant power matrix is obsessed with wealth and driven by greed. We have to stop the rule of fear and prejudice and end the race for profit. There is enough for everyone if we shift our priorities to increase health and well being all over the globe, protect environment, end discrimination, empower women and focus on education.
Q: What did you want to be when you grew up, and why?
I had no fixed ambition: I wanted to be a teacher, a nun, a doctor, an engineer, a painter and the leader of anti-fascists movement from the WW2. I was given freedom to try different things without a pressure. I always felt happy if I had a sense that I am doing something useful and something that makes a difference.
Q: If you could live in a different time in the past, when would it be?
I am more interested in the future. I find the past rather brutal, especially for women so I cannot find any time in the past where I would want to be as a woman. But if I had a time machine, I wish I could go back and fix some of the disasters for example prevent the rise of Hitler, like in the Terminator (the movie).
Q: What has been the best advice you have received by someone?
My mother once told me to learn to recognise and stay away from small minded and ignorant people, because the damage that even one ignorant and selfish person can create in one’s life requires efforts of many intelligent and good people to fix.