Josh Irby

Live from Sarajevo

Echoes of Adeline: Second Step … Do Something

Echoes of Adeline will be a weekly series in which I will highlight a person or organization whose actions remind me of Miss Irby, her values, or her life.

When we left off yesterday, Anesa was angry because the schools in Slovenia would not let the Bosnian refugee children attend.  She decided that something must be done.

At that point, Anesa had some options. She could complain about the Slovenian government and and how their inflexibility was hurting these innocent children.  She could seek a political solution, creating a petition against the government.  She could become disillusioned and give up hope.  She could burn the school down.  These were some of her options. However, Anesa chose a better one.

Anesa noticed that there was a small building behind the school where the elementary students met that was empty half of the day. She went to principal (the same one who told her that the refugee kids could not attend the school) and asked him if she could use the building during the afternoons. He agreed. Anesa then contacted the UN offices in Ljubljana and asked if they would provide money for books. They agreed. Within a couple of weeks, Anesa—at 19 years old—was the principal of a newly-opened school.

Miss Irby's first refugee school, 1876

The building was small—just five classrooms—and barely held the 75 students, grades first to eighth, who attended. Anesa recruited four other refugees to act as teachers (one was the well-known Bosnian artist Dzeko Hodzic). She took a class herself. They taught all the subjects and organized everything themselves. The children, who only days before had been loitering in the local cafes, were learning again.

A year after starting the school, Anesa left Slovenia to continue her studies in the United States.  The school, however, continued.  For three years, that small building was a place where children could be more than refugees, they could be students.

Step one … get angry. Step two … do something (positive) about it.

I see this in Anesa’s story.  I also see this is Adeline’s story. I hope to see more of this in my own story. How about you?

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