Sarajevo Serenade
Why I Want to Help

I am presenting a multi-media show about my travels throughout Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. “Sarajevo Serenade” consists of music, film and conversation. Recently I promised the Balkan people that I would tell their stories and remind the people of the world to practice tolerance.

On my first visit in 1998 (searching out my Croatian roots), I was overcome by what I witnessed. As an American, my eyes had never seen such destruction except on TV. I quickly realized my life would be forever changed.

My husband, Cheth, and I spent some time in Plitvicka Jezera, a breathtakingly beautiful lake region. While there, we learned the park had been very heavily mined, and only recently cleared. During our hikes we came upon hundreds of school-children. Thankfully they could enjoy their precious national treasure without danger of being maimed or killed.

As a singer/songwriter, I came home from that trip, kissed the ground in Oregon (literally) and wrote a song “Just Like Us,” about ethnic cleansing and how we in the U.S. take our freedom for granted.

When the conflict in Kosovo broke out I was able to put together benfit shows for Mercy Corps International, an Oregon-based relief organization.

As my second visit was approaching (May, 2001) I saw an “Oprah” show about women's rights. A spokeswoman for Women For Women International, an organization that helps victims of violence, talked about their efforts in Croatia and Bosnia. The next day I called them in Washington, D.C., told them I would soon be in Croatia, and asked if I could give free concerts for their women. They hooked me up with their director in Bosnia, Seida Saric, who helped me organize a concert in Sarajevo on May 11th.

I was ecstatic but apprehensive. I was going to a city infamous for its 1000 day seige. I would be travelling through a country still not at rest. But the risk was worth it. These wonderful people were so grateful to have us there it makes me cry just telling you about it.

I am a survivor of violence and rape. As I began to write music again, after a long period of silence, I started to heal myself of the shame and suffering from my past. I wanted to give these women, who had lived through so much, my best gifts, my voice and hope for their transformation from victim to survivor.

Our first day in Croatia, we stayed in Zagreb at the Hotel Esplanade. Coincidentally, the ICRC (Red Cross) was holding a conference on land mines there. We were privy to their huge story boards set up in the ballroom. They were full of stories about the innocent victims of land mines. There was also a chart showing which countries had and had not signed the treaty. Shame on the U.S.A!

While driving down the Adriatic coast toward Zadar, we had to take a detour near Novigrad. We stopped dead in our tracks after seeing a “marked-off” land mine three feet from the car. It scared the hell out of us (but I got a great photo!).

We drove many miles on our journey. From Zagreb to Dubrovnik, to Mostar, to Sarajevo, to Bihac. Seeing village after village destroyed, deserted. Only later did I learn that people could not rebuild their homes or work their land, not just because of ethnicity, but also because of land mines and the risk of losing life and limb.

While still in Europe, we saw Sir Paul McCartney and his new bride on TV, speaking about Adopt-A-Minefield.

Having performed as a stage actress and musician for nearly 20 years, I have developed a warm and humorous rapport with my audiences. I have written songs both beautiful and poignant.

My intention is to gently remind people to become involved in organizations that help promote peace, healing and compassion. To help them step outside their comfort zone and walk, if only briefly, in someone else's shoes.