The War Childhood Museum in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina is considered the world’s only museum focused entirely on childhoods that have been affected by war.
Its founder, Jasminko Halilovic, was determined to open the museum due to his own experiences growing up during the Balkans conflict of the 1990s.
After funding much of the project through sales of a War Childhood book, the museum opened in January 2017. Since then, it has built a collection of items donated by former ‘war children’.
The war in Syria has resulted in over 2.5 million refugee children, with another 2.6 million displaced internally.
The sheer size of these figures has caused many to forget the individuals who comprise them. With a new exhibition, the War Childhood Museum is looking to change this.
Driven by memories of his own childhood during the Balkans conflict, founder Jasminko Halilovic wants to turn this museum in Sarajevo into the world's biggest archive on wartime childhoods.The current exhibition pays a tribute to Syrain children.
Posted by Al Jazeera English on Monday, January 28, 2019
“We want to show that ‘war children’ are not only passive victims, as we often see them, but also to show that they are resilient survivors. That they are strong, creative and able to influence not only their lives, but also lives of people around them,” Halilovic told Al Jazeera.
Featuring toys, letters, clothing, drawings and other personal possessions donated by displaced young Syrians, the exhibition brings the focus back to children whose stories are so often concealed by statistics.
The exhibition is another step in Halilovic’s goal to turn the museum into the world’s biggest archive on wartime childhood. For the Syrian collection, he enlisted the help of Abed Moubayed, from Aleppo, to realise the project.
Moubayed, a refugee himself, believes the museum has a vital mission:
“Human beings are not learning anything. They keep doing the same mistakes; they keep doing war and hurting other people for nothing. So it’s really important to show that history keeps repeating itself, and we need…to do something to stop it.”
We are yet to know when or how the conflict in Syria will come to an end. But for as long as it continues, we must always consider the humanity behind the statistics.
The War Childhood Museum is a timely and profound reminder of this.