Originally published on Hybridmom.com






Fifteen years ago today the Dayton Peace accord was signed. The Dayton Peace accord was an agreement that effectively ended the three and half year war in Bosnia that killed over 250, 000 people, wounded and displaced millions of others and resulted in mass rapes and ethnic cleansing.

Richard C. Holbrooke, who died yesterday at the age of 69, brokered the Dayton Peace Accord. Mr.Holbrooke spent his life as a diplomat and he was currently the special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan for the Obama administration. The Dayton Peace accord was a complex and delicate deal to broker that involved generations of ethnic divides and land disputes after the break-up of Yugoslavia. My thoughts and prayers go out to Mr. Holbrooke’s family and my admiration for a man who truly helped change the world for the better.

We all have the capacity to improve the world around us. We just need the courage to speak up and demand change.

Not too long ago, I had my own “aha moment” when I realized that if I wanted to change the world I better start with me. I realized that I had an OBLIGATION to speak up for others. I began that obligation by directing my first film, “Forgotten Voices: Women In Bosnia”. The film deals with women and the aftermath of war. As you read my open letter, you will see that I had no training in this area, just a desire for change.

“Forgotten Voices:Women in Bosnia” is now available on DVD at www.ForgottenVoicesFilm.com. In my personal opinion it’s a much better holiday gift than a pair of socks because the sharing of stories does change the world we live in and socks just get lost.




A personal note from director Jennifer Rawlings


M-17 is the two lane road that takes you from Sarajevo to Mostar, Bosnia it is a twisty, jagged, perilous road . One thing you should know before you make the drive from Sarajevo to Mostar: Bosnian drivers are like New York City cab drivers that love to speed.

But let me put this in reverse a little and tell you how I wound up on this blood stained road to Mostar full of children selling honey.

Not too long ago, I was sitting outside by my pool in Sherman Oaks sipping an ice cold glass of tea with fresh mint and reading an article in the Los Angeles Times about a mother in Darfur whose child was dying or starvation. I started to cry.

My teenage daughter Courtney rolled her eyes at me and said:  “What are you crying about, Mom?”

“Oh, it’s just so sad what goes in the world and how people suffer…..”

“Tssssh” said Courtney  “ you can’t just sit around crying. What are you going to do about it?’

This question made my head spin. Do about it? What could I do about it? The world is messed up. People are starving, suffering, dying. Do about it????? Don’t people always just turn their backs and say it’s not our problem?

I need to swim some laps , refresh my Ice tea, maybe have a glass of wine. I need to get Courtney off this line of questioning.

I’m a stand –up comedian, a mother of four, a hick from Kansas. How could I possibly do anything????

Courtney’s question bothered me all day and all night.

On Monday I called two friends to see if they wanted to finance a documentary about women in Bosnia and the aftermath of war and it’s effects on society.

Did I mention that I am a stand-up comic?

I had never even shot a home movie before. Amazingly, my friends jumped on my learning curve of film making and agreed to finance my documentary……they must smoke crack. I’ll get them into rehab after the check clears.


Since 1999 I have been traveling to US Military Bases around the world to entertain the troops with my stand-up comedy act. I have done shows in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Japan, Korea, Germany, England, Iceland, Italy, Bahrain, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Kwajelean , Guam, Hawaii, Alaska , Qatar , and Djibouti Africa. I am sure that there are some countries I am leaving out.

I have also recognized thorough my travels to war zones that war continues to destroy lives long after the last bullets are fired. On back-to-back tours I was sent to Iraq and then to the Balkans. I was haunted by the fact that parts of Sarajevo still look like areas of Baghdad even though the war had ended in Bosnia over ten years ago.

I didn’t actually know anyone in Bosnia but I did know that there were stories to tell.

I bought a Panasonic DVX 100A and a plane ticket. With no crew or any knowledge of what the heck I was doing I went to Sarajevo.

There are two things that have struck me most in all of while filming. One is the beauty of the human spirit and it’s ability to persevere thru the most horrific of circumstances. The second, I am continually moved by stories about the kindness of strangers in the most dangerous of situations and aggrieved by the cruelty of neighbors.

The women in this film changed my life. I hope their stories stay with you.

Thank you for taking the time to watch “Forgotten Voices:Women in Bosnia” and thank you Courtney for the challenge.



Jennifer Rawlings