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22 January 2016
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Children Helped Their Mother Give Birth in Wartime Solun

Džana Brkanić BIRN BiH Sarajevo

Without a doctor, nurse, a sterile room or medical supplies, a brother and sister managed to help their mother give birth in the village of Solun near Olovo in January 1994. Cutting the umbilical cord was too frightening for the children, who were 14 and 16 years old at the time. They cleared a way through the snow and found an elderly woman to help them.

“The snow was falling continuously. Another offensive was underway in Olovo. It was night time, my mother, brother and I were in the house alone. Our mother started getting labor contractions, but she didn’t say anything to us. When the pain peaked and she started to shake, she told us to go get help,” Elvedina Dzakmic Klempic said.

The hospital was far away, and at the time fuel was only being used to transport the wounded and most difficult medical cases. Elvedina and her brother trekked to their neighbour’s house. Although the neighbour’s house wasn’t far away, the snow went up to their waists and they could hear the sound of explosions and shells falling.

Elvedina said they returned home with the neighbour, but their mother didn’t open the door.

“We felt tremendous fear at that moment. We banged and banged until she crawled over to open the door. She couldn’t get up from her labor contractions. We helped her and went back into the house. She was sweating, she was screaming and moaning from the pain,” Elvedina said.

She said when they saw their mother, they knew she was in a lot of pain. She started to scream and begged for her father or someone to help her. Elvedina said her brother only said “Oh, oh, oh.”

“I put the pillow down. I don’t even know how, but Emina was born. I blinked, just peeping at the baby and I couldn’t even look at my mother. The neighbor took off her dark green sweater and wrapped up the baby. She didn’t cry because she was tied to our mother by the umbilical cord. I thought that this was the end,” she said.

Elvedina said no one dared cut the umbilical cord. They remembered that there was an old woman in the neighbourhood who would be able to cut it. They had to pave a path through the snow again in order to get to her house.

“Coming to her house and back lasted an eternity. She was an old woman with health problems, who almost couldn’t walk. My brother and I were terrified and malnourished. The snow was up to the waist, and we were pulling this woman. She would fall down, we would help her up and it was like that the entire time,” Elvedina said.

When they returned to the house, Elvedina said the umbilical cord was finally cut. With their neighbour, Elvedina washed the baby over the sink and helped put on her diapers and clothes, which her mother had made earlier from bed sheets and old pieces of clothing.

Elvedina said her mother was on her feet the next day and made lunch, as if she hadn’t given birth the day before. In the whirlwind of war, newborn Emina brought beauty into the life of the Dzakmic family. Today, Emina is a student and is very proud of her mother, who brought her into the world under such circumstances.

Elvedina said the memory of helping her mother gave birth came back to her when she gave birth to her first child.

“I had a warm hospital, a doctor and medical care, and my baby had everything that Emina didn’t have. I realized that my mother’s name is courage because she was a hero on that winter night when she gave birth, when the sounds of shells could be heard at the same time,” Elvedina said.

Elvedina said that during the war they faced hunger and poverty, and survived from crops that had already been sown.

The village of Solun is located eight kilometres away from Olovo. According to the Research and Documentation Center, a total of 281 people were killed in this municipality during the war, out of whom 60 were civilians.

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