Spaho Bajric

Born: 19th July 1944

Small town near Sarajevo, Bosnia

Date of interview: 23rd June 2006

Map showing where Spaho Bajric came from

Which religion were you before?

I never follow it, I was free man you know. But I was born ... I was born like Bosnian Muslim and I was so proud of my parents' religion and I said 'Why are we change?' And I was so upset I ask for my passport to go back to Bosnia. He was so embarrassed he apologised me he will never do it again and I realised they respect me so much and they tried me to help in other way.

My children ... I was worried for them. They had to find school. They have to continue with their education. My son was in Bosnia student but my daughter she finished two years at medical college. And what's happened when we asked for place at school nobody accept them because their English was quite ... weak and first they had to improve English. My son spent one year for preparatory course at Reading University. He was doing maths, physics, chemistry and English and after one year he passed. My daughter they put her to GCSE and teacher told me she can get good result but she was so clever girl I know that the problem was English.

And I borrow money from friend of mine from Germany. I pay at private school for my children to go to learn English and after one year both of them they passed First Cambridge Certificate and after that Proficiency. My daughter start to do her A Level, and in chemistry, maths and physics. It was very rare that girl take maths and some her friends call her genius, but she took maths because you don't need much English but she was preparing herself to studying pharmacy or dentistry. For me I was learning just basic ... it was couple hours per week and and ... it wasn't be enough. If I need more lessons I had to pay. I didn't have any money for that but I found volunteer teacher who promised that will help and really she helped me and I start to learn more.

After six months we receive insurance number and we were able to work. What I should do I use my experience from my ... I said young day because we had family business in construction industry. My older brother was a businessman and when I was student I used to help him. I work with him but I was quite good with painting and decorating and one Indian man offered me job. It was small amount of money. I was working at that time probably thirty five to thirty pound per day but I was happy that I could earn money and I can help my children for their education. I know it wasn't money for living it was money for put in somebody in their future.

My son at that time applied to go to university North London University and they accept him but student fee was quite high about £5,000 we have to pay. It was impossible for us to pay because they treat us as foreign student not home student and we sent letter to the college department and they reduced fee on £2,500. It was very good news and we were work very hard to save money and pay for student fee.

And my daughter at that time used to work at Safeway food store in Reading. Headmaster of Maiden Erlegh School find job for her. She was working after when she finishes school after four o'clock and she was working for weekend. It was enough for us to save some money and prepare for university for student day when they go to university. And both of us we were helping for my son and her brother and he was working for weekend as well in restaurant and pubs to earn money to pay for accommodation and food. And after first year he applied for and ... George Soros Foundation in America and he receive help from him. But I was thinking how we can do something. We have some other Bosnian people here with student. What we can do? And we decide to organise Bosnian Youth Trust. With local people who join us we were so successful. We apply to National Lottery Charity Board and with explanation that we need money for student who are Bosnian student who are at university in Reading and they offer us at that time I can't remember probably about £10,000 what was enough to pay for fees. And when we received that we were able to support our children.

What's happen with me? I was working but after five o'clock when I finish my work as painter decorator I was attending English lessons at the Japanese College in Reading.