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Dejan's Story

Time Code Transcription
0:00 – 0:16 So I was born on May 23rd of 1985 and for the first seven years of my life, I lived in Bosnia. A very privileged life, my father was a lawyer working for the government, my mom was a registered nurse working in the local hospital, giving back to the community, something really important for the family.
0:16 – 0:37 And then, all of a sudden, things changed. And such has life. And the war broke out and because he was with the government, we were fortunate enough of being able to leave on time, so we didn’t get to witness as many of the issues and atrocities and all the horrible things that happened to people of all three sides involved.
0:38 – 0:47 We left to Serbia, where we stayed for the next four years, moving around, finding a life, and then, all of a sudden, Canada came out.
0:48 – 1:11 We had no notice of leaving. I went to daycare that day, and I came home at 3 o’clock, my grandmother said, who looked after us, my babysitter was my grandmother, part of the tradition and culture… Basically said that “you will be leaving with your mom and your sister, you’re going on a mini vacation” and we went on a mini vacation and never came back.
1:12 – 1:41 Because the goal at this point was to leave the country, there were already barricades and [inaudible] was starting to shut down as the country was collapsing. Following that, we moved to Belgrade, to live with family. At this time, it was all over the news that… The siege of Sarajevo and everything that broke down the city I was born in. So this is when, at the age of seven, you realize that nobody has to tell me why I’m here, I’ve left for a reason and it’s no longer safe to be where we were, which was home.
1:41 – 2:10 And… So that brought new friendships, new challenges, having to constantly move around, but the most difficult hardship was the fact that my father had stayed behind. So we didn’t know whether he was alive. At the odd time, he would make a phone call, just stating that he’s ok, but it was very difficult as a child, not having a fatherly figure who was so important prior to that and so present in our everyday life, just not knowing where he was or what he was doing for that matter.
2:11 – 2:44 Those things, you don’t really forget and there are things that will stay with you for a really, really long time. I can describe to you in detail leaving the apartment with that suitcase. But when the reality finally sank in that there was a war happening, at the age of seven, it was difficult watching the 7 o’clock news, which is what it is there and seeing your city being destroyed in pieces… That excitement piece very quickly disappeared and turned into worries as to “where is my father”, “what’s happening to myself”, “what’s happening to my family.”
2:45 – 3:00 My aunt lived in the same city, my grandparents were there and many other family members, “are they alive.” It wasn’t a question of “why this is happening”, “who is causing this”, “whose error or fault is this.” It was a question of “are these people alive.” I realized how precious life is.