Linked with Center for Peace, Nonviolence and Human Rights, and with Global Partnership for the Prevention of armed conflict GPPAC.
She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.
She says: “My engagement in peace activities is based on an effort and a wish to bring about real changes in the manner of thinking by opening a dialogue between the parties in conflict”.
Spasenija Moro – Croatia
She works for the Center for Peace, Nonviolence, and Human Rights (named on sourcewatch.org).
When the booming announcement of war in the last decade disrupted the peaceful and stable rhythm of her life, Spasenija Moro did not abandon her optimism. She believed that war could not really happen in the former Yugoslavia. She believed in peaceful solutions for all problems.
Though she knew little about the techniques of nonviolent communication, by nature she was inclined to peaceful solutions. She missed social engagements and places for interaction that could be an alternative to war as a means to changing local society.
The war began for her personally in the most painful way. Since she had never been actively involved in politics, she could not understand politicians’ behavior. She believed that all of them were humanists and that they were socially engaged and sensitive people who would put the general-well being before anything else. Which for her meant solving the accumulating problems of the humiliated, oppressed, and degraded.
She started to talk openly about the injustice and repression that had taken place after World War II. All the problems that earlier had been swept under the carpet now flared up as a threatening fire that could consume the entire region.
Advancing signs of war affected her deeply. She did not want to accept war as a solution to the conflict, but her voice in the wilderness, could not stop the floods of anger and hate rolling in, together with sounds of tanks and explosions. That painful confrontation with the destruction of physical and mental systems made her feel empty inside.
Her only wish was to run away as far as she could from the shooting and from places and people she loved. She wished to be alone so that she could analyze everything and understand what was happening.
The first time she managed to get away with her family from war-torn Pakrac in Western Slavonia, where her husband’s parents lived, was when she went to Germany where her family lived.
The picture changed rapidly with every kilometer. Twenty kilometers from Pakrac there was no sign of war in August 1991. After several peaceful nights in Germany, the images of what happened in Pakrac came back. She analyzed them and found strength to return to Croatia a week later, this time through Hungary to Osijek, Croatia.
Osijek shared the same fate as Pakrac. Leaving the city once again meant leaving everything she had. It was a hard decision to make, but she had no support in what was happening so fast. She felt that nobody needed her. It was much more difficult to leave this time, but she managed to do so despite bombing and shelling.
Her car was the only car on the road to Zagreb. The citizens of Zagreb were leaving their city with the sound of sirens.
A few kilometers farther was Slovenia. This meant rescue, peace, silence, autumn colors and warmth. The reflection of Bled Lake completed the impression, while she and her husband were sitting on the terrace and drinking coffee. Compared to all they had seen, it was as if they were on another planet even though the distance from Croatia was so short.
They stayed in Germany for several months and then returned to Pakrac in February 1992.
This time, she was better prepared for facing everything she had left behind. The city was almost empty, without children on the streets, without many cars, everything seemed dead. Even so, she decided to return and start her struggle of survival in the city where she felt a sense of belonging.
Her son suffered deeply and wanted to return to Osijek. Her husband stayed in Germany because his company in Lipik no longer existed. She lost her position at the College of Education and the majority of her friends and acquaintances were no longer there. Everyone went their own way; hers took her back to Osijek. She was alone in her flat in a besieged city.
Miraculously, her flat remained undamaged by the shells and it was complete with furniture. A family of refugees from Baranja lived in it while she was in Germany. They encouraged her to come back. Even as refugees, they were the first to offer a hand.
She returned slowly to her earlier way of living. She was looking for a job and was convinced she would get one. She met a colleague and came into contact with a group of intellectuals who were conducting a poll among returnees to Osijek.
That is how peacemaking took hold in her life; how development started in new conditions with new encounters and learning. The Center for Peace, Nonviolence and Human Rights in Osijek gathered some ten people willing to learn and get involved in preserving the nucleus of a civil society that appreciates the cultural differences.
It was an opportunity for people to speak in public about the horrors happening in the war. They were the minority, but she was happy to find them since she felt many things in common. One group of peace-engaged intellectuals and priests from Germany had a very important influence on her personal growth in the Center for Peace.
They stayed in Osijek for one week and she was asked to be their translator. This meeting, in the middle of war, brought her not only a ray of light, but wisdom and empowerment on the spiritual level. She entered a new dimension of reflection and belief in peace work.
She improved her knowledge of German for her work and felt liberated from the guilt of not joining the process of creating a new reality earlier. She was given an opportunity and space in a registered non-governmental organization (NGO) where she became an engaged citizen and a person responsible for helping to bring about social change.
Her mentors were mostly from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Her new line of work required further education in the most complex areas of philosophy and psychology, to serve as key guides to the spiritual part of human existence in a difficult war and during traumatic times.
The deeply human gesture of people from the Western democracies meant a lot to her at that time, much more than any material support. Her needs came from the spiritual level and she wanted to learn about herself, about self-acceptance and forgiving. She wanted to achieve inner harmony.
She took part in many workshops on self-awareness, nonviolent communication and mediation. Trainers from different schools came to Osijek. These trainers had a great deal of knowledge and skills needed for better communication and for making a breakthrough toward something new without fear of the future.
Spasenija began as a translator at the Center for Peace. Although the work was exhausting, it
regenerated and strengthened her, as she was learning new skills and gaining knowledge in order to help those who needed it. And there were many people in Osijek and its surroundings who needed support: refugees, displaced persons, and especially children.
As a translator, she came into more and more frequent contact with these people, for whom psychological and social support projects were developed. Through those contacts, she acquired the skills of active listening and healing through the change of attitudes, in both theory and practice. She listened to and translated many war stories and misfortunes, sympathized and suffered, became exhausted, but her power and optimism as well as her desire to help others was never extinguished.
She found support in many people, her family and the Center for Peace. She has shared a lot with them up to today. They became a part of her family, her teachers. She considers herself lucky because she had the opportunity to meet them. Owing to the war and her wish to be of value to the society and the community, from something bad and terrible, she also gained something good and beautiful.
In 1993, Spasenija Moro went to Graz/Deutschfeistritz in Austria to meet the representatives of the countries from ex-Yugoslavia. Called “Sarajevo Mon Amour,” the meeting represented the first step towards reconciliation. She and other participants listened to European experiences of peace making and reconciliation with examples from Ireland and Switzerland.
In 1994, she participated in the seminar called “Wer hilft den Helfern?” (Who can help the helpers?), which also took place in Austria. The workshop covered the empowerment process for work with traumatized persons. That year she was engaged in the project on empowerment of the refugee population from Laslovo. The project included cooperation with the Netherlands, Hungary and Germany.
In the course of the year, the refugee community living in Osijek started to meet with the poeple from Baranja. She participated in those meetings through the joint projects of Germany, Hungary and the Netherlands in “Kuca susreta” (House of Meetings) in Mohacs, Hungary). The goal of the projects was to empower populations to return.
Begining in 1994, these meetings continued until 1998 when Baranja and Eastern Slavonia were peacefully reintegrated into the territory of the Republic of Croatia. (1000peacewomen).
Sorry, I can’t find more informations in english about Spasenija Moro, Croatia, in the Internet.
NONGOVERNMENTAL PROJECTS “RETURN AND TRUST REBUILDING–PAKRAC” AND “THE BENCH WE SHARE”, 15 pdf-pages;
Prehrambeno – Tehnoloski Fakultet, PTFos.hr, Srijeda, 31 Listopad 2007;