CASE NOTES FROM OUR FIELD WORKER, BERNARD McMAHON
Visited the Selimovic family near Maglai in Bosnia. Mrs Selimovic lost her husband in the fighting in 1992, but because she is unable to prove he is dead she cannot claim a full war widow's pension. She has four daughters: the eldest is in Italy working in a hotel, and the others are still at school. Since they are unable to return to their own home which is now occupied by a Serb family, they are squatting in a house where water is rationed to four hours a day. Most of her food is home grown and only occasionally does she buy a little meat. Thanks to much hard work in the fields, Mrs Selimovic now has a stock of walnuts, apples, pears, plums, beans and potatoes. Suggest we give her money for seeds so she can grow food to sell.
Visited the Zec family who are living in a single room, (husband, wife, three children and numerous cardboard boxes). They still have no running water after three years. Saw the foundations they have laid for the house they hope to build. Suggest we give them money for building supplies.
Visited the Hodzic family living in Sanski Most. Their bedroom still has a huge shell hole where there was once a window. Their husband is very frustrated because he cannot walk after having his leg amputated in the war. Met their son sho is about to leave for Austria looking for work. (Their two youngest sons were killed in massacre in 1992). Their daughter is planning to go to university in September and is trying to find money to cover educational expenses. Suggest we make a contribution to this.
Visited Mrs Filipovic in Modra. She is now 78 and was digging in the fields when I arrived. Her living conditions have improved a little in that the walls of her one habitable room are now plastered. Suggest we provide money for seeds and livestock.
Visited Tima Avdic. (Her Mother died three years ago in the refugee camp in Slovenia). She has moved with her grandparents from Maglaj to their home village in Serb territory. She now has a 2 hour journey to school each day. Her educational results continue to be excellent. Tima's ambition is to study criminology at university and become a police detective inspector. Suggest we give her money for her bus fare.
Visited Krusko family in Ljesevo, near Sarajevo. She is a war widow and shares a dilapidated Serb house with her youngest child and one of her married sons, who has two small children. They have just two rooms. One serves as a kitchen/living room/bedroom for Mrs Krusko and her daughter, (they sleep on couches). The other room, originally a storeroom, is now a bedroom for the married son, his wife and two children. This son learned Italian cooking as a refugee in Germany and now works 16 hours a day in a small cafe. His mother suffers from chronic asthma and she is no longer able to work in the fields. The ten year old daughter therefore has to look after the cow and five hens, to make sure her mother gets plenty of rest. The bad news is the cow is small, old and sick because the stable roof leaks. Suggest we provide money for a new cow.
Visited the Kotoric family near Tuzia. Mrs Kotoric's husband was killed in 1992, and she returned to Bosnia from the refugee camp two months ago. She is now regretting her decision because she is having to squat in an old, cold Serb house with no running water. Her own house is intact, but it is occupied by Serbs who have no intention of leaving. Mrs Kotoric has three daughters, all at school. Her brother and father live nearby, also squatting in a house. Her brother escaped from Srebrenica in 1995 by walking for three weeks through forests, avoiding snipers.
Bernard and refugee children out walking in nearby hills.