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Slavonski Brod

From 2006 - 2015 I travelled overland to Slavonski Brod, Croatia to work with the local young people.
I have always tried to document my adventures using a mixed bag of analog cameras, from a point and shoot Pentax PC-100 right through to a Hasselblad 503CXi. On a normal journey to Slavonski Brod we drive from England through France into Germany and stop over in Munich for one night. We then head further east through the Austrian mountains into Slovenia and finally hit Croatia. All in all, it’s about 1500 miles and the time seems to pass rather slowly.

When our small team arrive in Slavonski Brod we run basketball camps each morning and youth clubs every evening. We end up spending time with, and getting to know many, many local young people. When I first arrived in the city back in 2006, it was easy to see that war hadn’t long passed though. For those who aren’t aware, Croatia was part of the former Yugoslavia until 1991 when it declared its independence and fought in a civil war until 1995. For a number of years after the war, there were still bullet holes in buildings and derelict, abandoned homes on every street. Since the late 2000s Croatia has seen a huge improvement and the majority of damage has been cleared away to make way for new homes, supermarkets and malls. All this restoration has been a real encouragement for me but sometimes I do think that the physical and emotional damage done to the people of Slavonski Brod will take far longer to heal.

Thinking back over my time in Slavonski Brod, there have been a whole host of people who I have met and there are a couple who have really stuck with me. We had a local young guy named Karlo come on our basketball camp for a couple of years and he always put in so much effort and he was actually really good at basketball. As those years passed we connected with him often and hung out most evenings. He eventually ended up coaching on the basketball camps and helping us with translation too. Another young guy who we would always bump into is Sasha. He has brain damage from being near some explosions during the war but a great guy all the same. You will find Sasha swimming in the river every day and he will often join us during the evening to relax by the fountain in the town square

One of my favourite places to visit while staying in Slavonski Brod is Petnja Lake. The lake is surrounded by an ancient Slavonian forest and is just so good! I will always try and take a day at the lake where we can swim and wander around the forest trying to avoid the mosquitos and river snakes. There used to be a platform there to jump off and for a couple of years it disappeared but now its back and it is excellent.

It would be great to get back there again. I don’t think I will ever complete my  project that I started back in 2006.

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