"I suffered horrific flashbacks"

How we helped a father suffering from PTSD and his family

It wasn’t until after the birth of his daughter that everything fell apart.

“Her birth was the best thing in my life, but … there was my child, so small and vulnerable and I, her father, couldn’t give her all that she needed.” 

Jasmir found that every time he closed his eyes, all he could see were scenes of horror: explosions, gun shots, his friends being wounded. 

It is estimated that 400,000 people in Bosnia-Herzegovina suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) today. The Bosnian war of 1992 to 1995 saw an estimated 100,000 people die, 35,000 women raped, and people imprisoned in hundreds of concentration camps, in a conflict that tore the nation apart and inflicted terrible, lasting damage. 

Jasmir was only 15 years old when the war began. One day he was attending school with his friends, and the next day he was caught up in a violent conflict. His teenage years were spent dodging bullets and trying desperately to survive. 

Jasmir said, “In a matter of days, my life – as well as the lives of everybody around me – was dramatically changed. For three and a half years I was under constant gun fire and the only sound that my ears absorbed were the sounds of explosions.” 

bosnia ptsd

He survived the war physically unscathed – but psychologically traumatised. He put his feelings aside to deal with the pressing concerns of finding work, earning a living, and then providing for his family.  

For a while, Jasmir seemed to be coping well – until his life began to unravel after the birth of his daughter.

I, her father, couldn't give her all that she needed.

Jasmir, now 41, said, “I didn’t have control over my behaviour and I suffered horrific flashbacks, nightmares and insomnia. I sought help and I was diagnosed with PTSD.” 

Despite many difficult days, he has never given up and has worked tirelessly for his family. However, the economic situation in the country is tough – and the family’s needs continued to pile up. 

When Jasmir first came into the Mission Without Borders (MWB) office, he was frantic with worry because he did not have enough food for his cow. He and his family were then enrolled on MWB’s family sponsorship programme and they began to receive emotional support, as well as the practical help they needed. 

MWB team member Drazan works with Jasmir and his family.  He said, “It is my privilege to work with the Colic family. Both parents were exposed to terrible experiences in their lives. They don’t falter but continue in their efforts to provide a better life for all their family.  

“Through an agriculture project we helped them get much needed wheat bran for their most valuable possession - the cow. That cow provides a regular source of food and income for the family through Izeta selling milk and dairy products. 

“As their coordinator, I understand how important it is to talk to them and to listen to all the problems they’ve encountered on their very challenging journey through life. For both of them, there is a long way towards emotional healing, but I believe that the combination of our material and emotional support will help the parents in their efforts.”  

Jasmir said, “When I asked you to help me with the cow feed, I could not dream about all the other support that you would offer to our family.  

“I can’t describe what it means to have someone to count on – and how positively it’s affected my life.”   


400,000 people in Bosnia-Herzegovina are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the war, it is estimated, but the numbers could be far higher.

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