Suffering transforms us

There are currently around 5000 migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina waiting to enter the European Union countries. It is unacceptable that the 21st century, at the Gates of Europe, we have people who do not have basic living conditions such as food, clothing, and drinking water.


A large number of migrants return from “The Game” (a term used by who attempt to cross the border) with physical injuries. A large number of humanitarian organizations, including the Jesuit Refugee Service – Bosnia and Herzegovina (JRS-BIH), give hope and help reduce their suffering.

My working experience in the JRS-BIH gives me the opportunity to meet the migrants daily. I will never forget the smile on the face of the young man to whom we gave new sneakers because he was barefoot or the gratitude of the family to whom we provided sleeping bags and food. Is very hard to imagine for European Union citizens that something like that could happen not far from their borders.

This experience of meeting migrants who are suffering also changes me as a person and gives me the opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and start to live a simple life. On the other hand, it motivates me to fight and work to alleviate their suffering and use it as a source to create a better and more meaningful life. I can agree with Paulo Freire, a Brazilian philosopher who stated “Submission to suffering is a form of annihilation, but transformation of suffering rekindles a faith that gives life”

Leadership experience

I also had an opportunity to put into practice my leadership skills, knowledge, and values ​​which I got thanks to the European Leadership Program (ELP) in Brussels. For me, ELP was a great experience where I learned and contemplated what it means to be a good leader, a leader who listens and cares about his team.

© Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Lukas Jovanović
ELP Fall Cohort 2020 Fellow