Spaho Bajric

Born: 19th July 1944

Small town near Sarajevo, Bosnia

Date of interview: 23rd June 2006

Map showing where Spaho Bajric came from

How were you travelling?

And ... they find somebody by car, they pay for that, and they were travelling by foot as well because it was mountain area and they had somebody who know area very well. And it took us about four days to reach Croatian border, and in Croatia I found my friend who helped me to go to Slovenia with my wife who was quite ill.

In Slovenia I went to refugee camp in town Kamnik and they offer us accommodation. It was one room for five people. I was very happy to pay something like that. Without money, without anything with you, you have to accept what they offer to you. My wife [pause] I took her to hospital in Ljubljana and after three weeks doctor told me she would die and ... at that time I didn't know anything about my family, about my children, where is my daughter, where my son was, and I went to Red Cross in Slovenia and ask to help with coffin for funeral. They promise me they will give everything. When I went to ... I was in Bosnian, Slovenian mosque where Bosnian people used to work and they said 'They can't help you. You have to pay for funeral service.' I was so upset that somebody can't offer you religious service and at that time I swear I will never go to mosque or church and, but after I change my mind anyway.

And I took my wife to Croatian and Bosnian border from Slovenia where she was alive and next day she died. [pause] Her relative who was ambulance driver took her body and me to small town they call Bosanski Brod and we went to [pause] grave with her body but fighting was around and bomb, shelling. We had only five minutes for funeral service. What I did I try to remember place where I put my wife and after that I had a big problem after three years when war was finished unable to find her grave.
Day when my wife died it was the worst and very unhappy day for me as well. I lost somebody that I loved but at that time I found my daughter. She was in Macedonia and in one refugee camp. She was travelling through Bulgaria, Hungary, Croatia and she came to Slovenia. A friend of mine told her about me. [pause] When she asked me, 'What's happened with Mum?' I told her 'Your Mum ... has died.' She was crying and she said 'I will kill myself.' I tried to stop her, make her calm. I promise everything be OK, I will look after her [pause] and [pause] in Slovenia I try to do something to help myself and family and I join Red Cross to help other refugee and I join council and ask to work in Bosnian school to help Bosnian people. And it was on voluntary base.

Unfortunately one day police arrest me, Slovenian police. They told me, 'You can't go out from refugee camp, you have to stay in refugee camp' and they treat me like prisoner and I was so disappointed I was looking to go to any other country to be free to enjoy my freedom. Doesn't matter which country, is it Albania, is it France or Germany. At that time Red Cross they made list ... and country for people who would like to go to Germany, France, Italia, Switzerland. I prefer to go to France. At that time I speak French but both my children they ask 'dad, please let's go to England.' I didn't know anything about England and what I should do in country where I never visit before. I never speak English, and what I will do. They said 'Dad please, let's go to England.'

And five buses from Reading in Organisation of Reading Churches they come to collect about 100 something and 70 Bosnia refugee to bring to United Kingdom. And I do remember Joe Wise editor of Reading Chronicle was one of them and I met him. We became after that very good friends. And I was very quiet. [pause] For me I thought it will probably be couple of weeks war will be finished, I will go back to Bosnia. Unfortunately something was happening different. When I arrived in Reading after it took us about one day and night. When I arrived in Reading they accommodate us in St Saviour's Church. I spend three days laying on the floor with some other Bosnian people but ...