Savo Heleta was born in  1979. He lived in Gorazde, a city in eastern Bosnia, with his father Slavko, mother Gordana, and two years younger sister Sanja. His father was a journalist and later a businessman, while his mother worked as an administrator in one of the city’s companies.


When the war began in Gorazde in May 1992, Savo’s family remained in their home. In the next two years, they lived through the horrors of war, terror, and hunger. They were lucky to survive and escape from the city in April 1994 swimming in the freezing cold river Drina.


After finishing high school, Savo worked for PeaceTrails Youth Leadership Program designed to help young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina to become leaders in their communities. In 2002, he received a scholarship from The Whalen Family Foundation to study in the United States. At that time, Savo hardly spoke any English.


Savo began writing Not My Turn to Die in July 2005, inspired by his American friends with whom he spent a semester in South Africa.


In 2006, Savo graduated from Saint John’s University, Minnesota, USA, majoring in history and business management.


Savo currently lives in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. He holds a Masters Degree in Conflict Transformation and Management from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, which he completed in January 2009.


In his research, Savo focuses on conflicts within states, deep-rooted conflicts, conflicts over basic human needs, and negotiations that can bring lasting peace. His main research interests are Sudan, Darfur, Rwanda, and South Africa.


Click here for Savo’s full resume (PDF).


Click here to read Savo’s academic research.

Photo: Jade Peterson

Savo Heleta



Not My Turn to Die

Memoirs of a Broken Childhood in Bosnia


find Savo on


Savo’s blog