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my story
by Ivana Dundjer

losers and winners

It was the summer of 1992. Flowers were smelling enchantingly, like never before. Sun was lighting up the earth with his golden hands, birds were singing their best song all day. My birthday was in two days and I was so happy that I could fly.

Everything was perfect, well almost everything but war was beginning, nobody knew. That day was 23rd June. I was going to school like every other day. But when I came to school with all the other kids, the teachers sent us back home.

It was the summer of 1992. Flowers were smelling enchantingly, like never before. Sun was lighting up the earth with his golden hands, birds were singing their best song all day. My birthday was in two days and I was so happy that I could fly.

They were aware that something was happening but they did not tell us anything When I came back home my mother told me that my brother Dragan was going to the military to be a soldier. He had to go to help lots of people and our country. I was unhappy, but all the other things happened very quickly. In less than four hours bombs were falling around my house and you could hear guns everywhere. I did not have time to be scared or to cry. The only thing that time on my mind was that we had to run away from our own house. However to escape from our house was very difhcult because there were four of us, my mom, my two sisters and me and my dad was already at the front. To go out of our house was very dangerous because our enemies would shoot us with snipers. But somehow we succeeded to run away and to join with other families who were going away from their homes. Somehow that day finished and then next day we went to another village thinking that we might stay there. But that village was in bigger danger, our enemies already attacked them twice so we all decided to go to a house in a forest so they could not find us. That house was made of wood and it saved our lives. We stayed in that house for 20 days. It was awful but again it saved our lives and we had to stay there.

In that situation we had lots of stress and lots of terrifying things happened. One of these things was that my brother lost his leg when he was with a group of soldiers and the our enemies attacked them with bombs. My mother and sisters were terrified and I did not feel any better I had not seen my father for one month and my mother was worried. When he came at last to visit us he said that the best thing was for us to go to another city somewhere in Croatia, but he could not come with us because he was a soldier and my brother was still in hospital. Months and months passed and at last we went to Croatia in a bus. That was a very big risk because no one could guarantee a safe journey to somewhere else. Those were the most awful months in my whole life and I was glad that they were over, but the one thing that I did not know was that the next I I months would be the happiest months in my life.


my second home

When we were at last on a bus all the nice memories rushed back into my head, about good times and bad times. All my days spent with my family and friends. One moment I felt I would cry but on the other hand I was happy because I knew I would never see war and guns again. Lots if things were on my mind at that time and there were so many questions but none of them was the answer. I thought I was lucky because nobody in my family had died, but in other families people had often been killed. We travelled in that bus for 8 hours and it seemed to me like 8 long days which would never finish. Soon I fell asleep and the next thing I knew my mom told me we were at last in Makarska. I was relieved and I could at last stop thinking about whether I was going to be alive tomorrow or not.

' I loved watching the sunset and listening to the sea.
Sometimes it seemed that the sea was talking to me.'

I did not know much about the city named Makarska and I hardly knew it's location, but that was not important right then. After we arrived my mom and my sisters found a little flat close to the beach where we decided to live. Around that building there were lots of other buildings so you could not see the sea. These days passed very quickly for me. I met lots of people and most of them became my friends and we spent lots of time on the beach. I was always doing something so I did not have time be to concerned about my brother or my dad and what was going to happen to them. I had a wonderful time with my friends and some of them were from Bosnia. I had lots of things in common with them and we enjoyed every minute of our lives. Soon after summer was finished I began to go to school and I realised that lots of things were different from those I learned before in Bosnia and writing was a little bit different. Teachers wanted from every student many more skills and most of my time I was studying. School helped my to stop thinking about Bosnia and my friends there. Often I would came and sit by the sea and try to clear my thoughts and try to solve my problems.
I loved watching the sunset and listening to the sea. Sometimes it seemed to me that the sea was talking to me. From the beginning I loved Makarska and I enjoyed every moment I could. Lots of things changed and change was good for everybody. My dad and my brother often called us on thetelephone to tell us that they were O.K. and that we couldn't go back to Bosnia. The situation in Bosnia did not change much and I did not like that.
Months and months passed quickly and the situation in Bosnia was every day better and better. My family decided to go back home and you could say that I was happy, but on the other hand . . . I was sad to leave all my friends and | that beautiful blue sea. The time I spent in Makarska was absolutly fabulous and I learned very important lessons for my life. One of those lessons was "live your every day like it's your last." I had a big farewell with my friends and it was even more difficult to say goodbye to that city and not to be sad.

home sweet home

It was wonderful to be back home even when there was still war. I could not go to school because our school was damaged and all our teachers were in Croatia. Also most of my friends had moved their houses to Cnoatia so I was a bit sad and I knew I would never see them again. Months passed and winter was coming. Every day was cooler and cooler. My brother was still in Croatia in a Rehabilitation Centre and I did not see him often. He would write letters to us and sometimes phoned us. My father was still a soldier and only on the weekend he could come home. His looks changed. He was much thinner and he looked very old, so I was worried about him. Also I was worried that something might happen to him in a battle. I can still remember that those days wene very lonely. It was dangerous to go anywhere and especially to go outside. There were lots of houses which did not have electncity and our town needed lots of supplies, so the Red Cross helped us a lot. The first snow was falling and it was just so beautiful. I guess then I nearly felt that I was home and I felt much safer than before. Soon my dad left the army, so he was not a soldier anymore and I was very happy about that too. Most of my time I would spend with my cousins doing nothing. Christmas came like every other, snow, songs and a christmas tree.

All my family were together again and we enjoyed everything. After a couple of days came NewYear, so we had a big party for our friends and relatives. A couple days later my brother went back to Croatia, because of his leg. With the beginning of spring came new battles. They first started in town next to our little town Zepee. Months and months passed but the situation did not calm down, unfortunately it was spreading out to the other cities. Spring ended, summer came and was gone, but nothing changed. War was continuing and no one could change that. One more year passed, but I don't like to write about that because some of my friends were killed and some of my relatives. That was a very sad year for me and you could say that I did not have any motivation left.

Soon the war was stable so I could visit Makarska. I was very glad to see all my friends there and to hang with my gang on the beach once more. I knew that sooner or later my mom and dad would decide to send me with my sisters to Australia. However my sisters didn't want to even think of Australia. One of my sisters planned to get married to a nice guy from Makarska.

or is it ?

After a couple of months my sister married Damin. They had an absolutely beautiful wedding. Then my family returned to Bosnia again. My mum and dad decided that me and my mum should go to Australia because they did not know when the situation would be better We had to wait for a long time to get a visa so we could go to Australia. In that period of time my sister had a baby boy and everybody in my family was very happy. After we got the visa we still had to wait a long time. In that time I had mixed feelings. I was not sure if I wanted to go or not. I was happy but I was sad and it was very hard to say goodbye to my old friends who I had known all my life.

Soon came the day when we had to leave Croatia and go to Australia. But first we decided to go to Makarska and to stop by and say goodbye to everybody. That time was really, really hard for me, because I thought that one day I might regret going to Australia. But on the other hand I thought it would be very dangerous to stay in Bosnia. That was for me like I was stretchedbetween two countries. Soon we were at the airport. We waited for our plane for half an hour and then we were off to Australia. That flight was not very good. I was bored and so was my mum. Also we did not feel very well. The flight was very long and we stopped in four cities before we came to Sydney, Prague, Abu-Dabi, Singapore and Melbourne. At Sydney airport my sister, my brother-in-law and their little daughter Ivana were waiting for us. My mum and I were very happy to see them at last, we had not seen them for a whole 8 years. When we came into their house we had a big family reunion. I was very tired so I slept the whole day.

Months in Australia passed very quickly for me. Every day we would do something new and we would go somewhere. I love Australia and I think this is the most beautiful country in the world. I love Sydney too and lots of people are very lucky to live in so wonderful a city. I met some Croatian people but still I did not have many friends because I did not know English. I could only understand a little bit of English and I loved watching T.V. Surprisingly T.V. helped me to learn some more English, but soon I had to go to school and my English was still not very good. I heard about an Intensive English Centre in Beverly Hills from my Croatian friends who said they had been there too and that it was a great school,

Every day we would do something new and we would go somewhere. I love Australia and I think this is the most beautiful country in the world. I love Sydney too and lots of people are very lucky to live in so wonderful a city.

I decided to go to that school and to try to fit in. I was very nervous because I thought that all the other kids would know English very well and I wouldnot be able to speak with them. But I was wrong, really wrong. I started to go to this school at the beginning of last term. All subjects are very easy for me, everything except maths. I love this school and I have met lots of friends here, most of them are Chinese. I met four kids from Bosnia and one from Croatia. Teachers here are absolutely fabulous. They are always friendly and they help us with everything. They are always smiling and all the time ready to make jokeswith us. Teachers here are not strict like the ones in Bosnia or Croatia. The school atmosphere is very warm and friendly, so I feel like I'm in my country. I'm leaving this school in 6 weeks and it will be hard for me, because I am already used to going to this school and being part of the group. When I go to high school I will miss this school a lot and it will be hard to adjust to another school,

I think I should enjoy every minute that I spend here. I will always remember the beautiful times I have had here with my friends and teachers. And I will never forget this magnificent school.

by Ivana