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"...choose to deal with inhumane situations in a humane way, we can turn the world around and create positive lessons for ourselves and for others."

by April from Spokane

Zlata as a child

Zlata Filipović was born on December 3, 1980 in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. She is a Bosnian writer and the author of "Zlata's Diary: A Child’s Life in Wartime Sarajevo." From 1991 to 1993, she wrote in her diary, which she called Mimmy, about the horrors of war in Sarajevo, through which she was living. Some news agencies and media outlets labeled her the "Anne Frank of Sarajevo". As once before, good came from a little girl's diary. Unlike Frank fortunately, Zlata and her family all survived the war and escaped to Paris in 1993 where they lived for a year. They later moved to Dublin, Ireland, where they still reside today.

Zlata Filipovic
Zlata Filipovic, at the tender age of eleven, began a diary like many girls her age, not knowing that a war would change the entries from school and friends to shelling, hiding in the cellar and the death of classmates. People often do not consider how the ravages of war affect children; however, this diary lets you see just how devastating it can be.

Zlata Filipovic embodies tolerance, acceptance and respect. She saw that a difference, or a perceived difference, could cause hate, injustice, and ultimately war. She also saw that just because there is a difference, there does not have to be a divide. Zlata's diary was never intended to be published; if not for the war, there would have been no reason to share it with the world. Readers were able to see what was going on in Sarajevo through the eyes of a child. She spoke of living in war, without freedom, without a normal life and with constant fear.

Zlata exemplifies what it means to be a good citizen. She became a spokesperson for what was going on in her country. She spoke out on intolerance and hate. Her message was broadcast on radio and television. She appeared in newspapers, and in schools and universities in the hope that those who heard her would do something to end war. She spoke out on how war destroys childhood dreams and communities. She is an amazing example of what one voice can do to change the prejudices of an entire nation. Zlata personifies what it means to be an upstanding citizen of her homeland, Ireland and the world.

Zlata is a joint founding member of the recently established Network of Young People Affected by War (NYPAW) with Ishmael Beah (Sierra Leone), Kon Kelei (Sudan), Grace Akallo (Uganda), Emmanuel Jal (Sudan), Shena A. Gacu (Uganda). Zlata has been involved with Peace in Focus since its inception in 2006, when she attended an international symposium on conflict resolution in Prague with Co-Founders Kate and Kyle. Zlata has recently worked within the UN Children in Armed Conflict Division in New York under Olara Otunnu. Zlata holds a BSc. in Human Sciences from Oxford University and MPhil in International Peace Studies from Trinity College Dublin. She has spoken extensively at schools and universities around the world about her experiences and has collaborated with organizations such as the Anne Frank House, UN and UNICEF, and is a three-time member of UNESCO Jury for Children's and Young People's Literature Prize for Tolerance. Additionally, Zlata sits on the Executive Committee of Amnesty International Irish Section, the board of Voice of Slavery, and is working on a documentary film in Ireland.

Written by April from Spokane
This story has been submitted by a guest user and does not necessarily represent the views of The My Hero Project or its staff.

Last changed on: 7/31/2011

Google Videos Charlie Rose Interview: March 7, 1994

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The Los Angeles Times LA Times Articles

Filipovic, Zlata. Zlata's Diary: A Child's Life in Wartime Sarajevo. London: Penguin Books, 1994.

Gruwell, Erin. The Freedom Writers Diary. New York: Broadway Books, 1999.

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