Spaho Bajric

Born: 19th July 1944

Small town near Sarajevo, Bosnia

Date of interview: 23rd June 2006

Map showing where Spaho Bajric came from

What job roughly were, what job were you looking for?

OK. I was looking usually for simple job, not much. I was looking to do to work in shops, I was looking for work in office some secretary but when I sent my CV and answer was, 'You are over-educated for this job. One day you will leave us. We can't accept you.' And ... I changed something in my CV. When I applied for job I did not put all my qualifications. I just put simple things. And I was lucky. At Ealing Family 1997 ... they advertised job to work with refugee and asylum seeker to help with education, training, employment. It was my job, I told myself. I applied, I had interview and I got the job. I was Development Officer and ... it was my chance to help other people who were in my situation. All my clients were all over the world. I had doctors, dentists ... pharmacist. I had ordinary worker and I was able to listen to them, I was able to give good advice. I was able to help them. The first things was if somebody have to learn English, to go and study English then after that we will apply for job.

And people they listen to me. I send hundreds and hundreds of clients to Reading College to learn ... or some tutor private tutor who were helping us at that time. We established team of volunteer about twenty people who were working with refugee and asylum seeker in our project. Ealing Family they offer us office free of charge, they help us. But we help ourselves. We establish translation, interpretation service for many people in Reading here and for any borough council, for hospital, for solicitor. They need service for different languages. But what we did, we charge them for that. All money what we earn we gave to our clients. We pay for fee, we pay for travelling, for childcare, for books, and we help each other. In this project about sixty-seven clients they found job. They change their life. Many of them they retrain, they sent to ... company for training because in this country and in your own country is always something different. You have to learn from this system, how the system works, what the people need and all the people who were on training particular in housing they found a job.

But I did not stop to think about my country in Bosnia. I had letter from town where I was refugee from a hospital ... doctor send me. They did not have ambulance. They did not have any equipment, not laboratory, not bandages, nothing. They asked me if I can do something and [pause] I found very close friend who was manager at that time, in Panasonic. He promise he will do something with his friend and after a couple of weeks we raised money, we bought ambulance and they ... is full of medical equipment. They sent it to Bosnian hospital and they were able to transport people from their house to hospital.

Other things what's happened was that they had many disabled children in Bosnia. My relative was had ... director of one house for disabled people and they asked me if we can do something to help with minibus who will take children from their house to we call it disability centre where they will spend all day. And I was lucky at that time 1997. One of my friends recommend me for my work in voluntary sector ... that I was nominate for Man of the Year in Reading Borough Council, Reading Chronicle, and I was surprised when journalists come to see me and they made interview with me and they vote me Man of the Year. I got some financial reward for that but I thought at that time I'm giving it for minibus for handicapped children project and I ask other people if they would like to join us. They publish it in the Reading Chronicle and the response was very good. People donate money and we bought minibus with wheelchair and we took it in March 1997 and take it to the Bosnia. For me it was sad. I came to the Bosnian border but ... and Croatian border. I wasn't be allowed to go to Bosnia. I had wrong sort of travel document.