Popular with water sports enthusiasts, mountain climbers, walkers and skiers, the town of Bajina Basta lies at the foot of the Tara mountain range and on the banks of the River Drina in western Serbia. Historically, the region is as rich as it is diverse. Roman architecture dates back to the second and third centuries and findings from the neolithic period, at a site near the town, dates back five thousand years.
Bajina Basta is the final resting place of Evelina Haverfield, a passionate suffragette and, by all accounts, a formidable lady who was a dear friend to Elsie Inglis. She was administrator to the SWH unit in Valjevo from 1915 to 1916 and commandant to the london unit from 1916 to 1917. Following WW1 Evelina combined her love of the Serbian people with her compassion and founded both a children’s orphanage and a children’s health centre in the town. Her work and efforts have never been forgotten and the love the local people have for Evelina has never diminished.
On our visit to Bajina Basta we were once again overwhelmed by our warm welcome before we were taken to a new exhibition in Evelina’s honour. Jasna Stankovic took the floor. Tony Waterstone spoke on behalf of the relatives then I was asked to open the exhibition. After visiting Evelinas grave, laying wreathes and taking in the spectacular view from her well kept resting place we then visited the hospital which still bears her name and where the relatives planted a Serbian Pine tree. An excellent lunch was prepared for us at a restaurant on the banks of the River Drina and overlooking the famous “House on the River”. The backdrop to a perfect day. After lunch we said farewell to our magnificent hosts and as we weaved our way over the mountains to Valjevo, taking in the spectacular, magnificent views towards the Serbia Bosnia border I was confidant that Evelina Haverfield is very much at peace with a people she truly loved and who continue to love her back.
News clips from Bajina Basta