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The Dartmouth
June 17, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Student, professor duo to visit war-torn Bosnia

Two Dartmouth women will venture into war-torn Bosnia today to attend a women's leadership conference and to bring aid to the victims of years of Serbian-Muslim fighting.

Rupa Mukherjee '99 and English Professor Priscilla Sears leave for Croatia today and will travel from there into Bosnia.

The pair will be visiting the town of Sanski Most, a village currently occupied by Bosnian Muslim refugees.

Approximately 50 women from around the world will meet in Sanski Most for the conference, including Muslim women from the area who are trying to start local organizations to help mediate the conflict between the Muslims and the Serbs.

Mukherjee said the village is so devastated from the fighting that the Serbs are not even interested in regaining control from the Muslim refugees who have taken over there.

Mukherjee said she has very personal reasons for feeling a "tremendous need to help these people."

"This is something that I just need to do," she said. "I don't really feel any fear or nervousness."

Mukherjee and Sears will deliver items collected from the Dartmouth community to various villages throughout Bosnia. English Professor Lynda Boose and the Tucker Foundation have been particularly instrumental in organizing this "items drive" she said.

Collection boxes were established around the College campus and the Hanover area for donations for the Bosnian war victims.

Mukherjee said they were looking for items such as mixed tapes of American music, sewing items, office supplies, warm clothing, scented soaps, jewelry, scarves and make up.

The response to the collection has been overwhelming, Mukherjee said.

Bins were placed in the basement of all College residence halls, the Tucker Foundation, Collis Center, the basement of Sanborn Library, Alumni Gym, the Food Coop and Grand Union.

Mukherjee first became interested in the plight of Muslim refugees in Bosnia when a professor invited her to attend a seminar usually open only to faculty members.

The professor knew Mukherjee had spent the previous summer volunteering in Hungary and thought she might be interested in the seminar's speakers -- a young Bosnian Muslim woman and a photojournalist who had been covering the war in Bosnia.

The young woman spoke about her experiences with the devastation of war and about her mother, who had organized a women's group called "Through Heart to Peace" after they escaped to Croatia.