Stevan M. Weine M.D.
Honorary Member: Mr Tom Robb
Stevan Weine, a psychiatrist, is a researcher, writer, teacher and clinician in the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the International Center on Responses to Catastrophes, at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He was co-founder and co-director of the Project on Genocide, Psychiatry and Witnessing, which provides family-focused community based mental health services to Bosnians, conducts interdisciplinary research on survivors, and engages in mental health reform in post-war countries. His scholarly work focuses on the personal, familial, social, cultural, and historical dimensions of trauma and migration. He was awarded a Career Scientist Award from the National Institute of Mental Health on “Services Based Research with Refugee Families” for which he is conducting an ethnography of Bosnian adolescents and their families. He was principal investigator of a National Institute of Mental Health funded research study called “A Prevention and Access Intervention for Survivor Families” that is investigating the Coffee and Family Education and Support intervention with Bosnian and Kosovar families in Chicago. Weine is author of two books. When History is a Nightmare: Lives and Memories of Ethnic Cleansing in Bosnia-Herzegovina (Rutgers, 1999) is based upon survivor’s oral histories. Testimony and Catastrophe: Narrating the Traumas of Political Violence (Northwestern, 2006) is a narrative inquiry of diverse testimony readings from within four different 20th century socio-historical occurrences of political violence. Weine is currently Principal Investigator of two NIH funded studies: An Ethnographic Study of Preventive Mental Health Services for Adolescent Refugees and Migrancy, Masculinity, and Preventing HIV in Tajik Male Migrant Workers.
Good Day to all,
My name is Edin Ramovic. I am an International Student from the village of Smolj near Gorazde. I have been in Chicago since 2000 and have recently earned my Master of Science degree in Telecommunication Systems.
It is truly an honor to be here today.
I have been asked to come here this afternoon to introduce a gentleman in whose home I have lived during my eight years in Chicago without spending a dime in rent. He just picked me up from a person who brought me to the States and gave me a friendship and the shelter I needed all these years without any preconditions. I thought that he would kick me out after a few weeks, maybe months, or maybe a year. But he keeps going and going and going. He helped me through college and postgraduate studies. If it were not for him and his wife Phyllis, I probably would not have a master’s degree, but still a high-school diploma and not as bright a future as I have now.
I am here to talk about a very special man in my life. He has been a mentor, a friend, a friend of Bosnia, a caring guide to my education and an example to many of us of the power of positive dreams.
I am here today to talk about a man who is known, personally, by thousands of Bosnian refugees living in Chicago. As I became aware of the number of people who knew him, I found that he was one of the first people to meet the heavily wounded from the Sarajevo Marketplace shelling during the aggression in Bosnia in 1994. The circle of Bosnians with whom he was involved spanned from physicians to carpenters. Many Bosnian children call him Grandfather.
He was not alone in his activity. His wife Phyllis, who I consider my American mother, his family and his large community of friends in America have become a part of my life and the lives of many Bosnians. From federal judges to teachers, to dentists, to itinerant day laborers, I have been introduced to many slices of American life.
Now, living with this man, I can tell you, has not been a quiet existence. He does not just “talk the talk”; he walks, stumbles, runs and jumps the walk. I watch in wonder as he seems to have undying energy, even at times of ill health.
In addition to Bosnians, a continuing commitment and activity, he founded an organization for the Lost Boys of Sudan, directs a food pantry for the poor, and, remarkably, is becoming known by the new Iraqi refugees as Grandfather. He created a construction company named “Rahatluk”, for the wounded and those from concentration camps, so they could get some jobs and income. Together, we have operated a computer repair shop in the basement to provide fair computers to new refugees from countries like Liberia, Kosovo, Sudan, Congo, Burma and, today, Iraq.
The neighbors and members of his church have adopted families, befriended the lonely and provided employment and hope to the refugees from all over the globe.
I have met many physicians who he assisted in their efforts to get into residencies, businesses that are flourishing from his encouragement, young people who have developed careers, such as myself. The challenge faced by Tom and Phyllis Robb is to schedule the graduations, marriages, birth celebrations and Bajram parties throughout the year.
As I learn to understand the Politics of Power and as I watch both this country and my home country struggle with leadership, I have a quiet voice in my heart that wishes they all would understand how to care for one another. I believe that I have become close to a man who cares about the heart of all others and, while occasionally angered by the foolishness of government, is always open to address the needs of others. He is an example to the world of an alternative to war, a choice against anger and rage and a testimony to the power of hope to make life worth living.
My parents, Omer and Vezira, and my other parents, Tom and Phyllis Robb, have had a lasting impact on my life, my purpose, and my future.
It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to my friend, Mr. Tom Robb.