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Mesanovic Ramiz - Bosnia and Herzegovina

Mesanovic Ramiz is a landmine survivor from a small village in Northern Bosnia, whose life, thanks to the LSN Bosnia-Herzegovina’s support and guidance, took a remarkable turn for the better over the past two and a half years.

Prior to the war, Ramiz, a young husband and a new father, lived with his wife and a baby son in their native town and had, what he thought, a shiny future ahead of him. To ensure a good and secure life for his family, Ramiz took a job in a ship-construction factory at the Croatian coast. Although absent from home, his job paid well and he was happy knowing that he was building a solid future for his family.

Unfortunately, not long after Ramiz began his new job, the war broke out. Together with number of his countrymen, friends and neighbours, Ramiz joined the army. He felt confident that after the war ended he would be able to return to his previous life. That, unfortunately, was not the case.

In late 1994, near the end of the conflict, Ramiz stepped on a landmine and sustained serious injuries to both legs and his left arm. He was lucky enough to receive prompt medical attention and the doctors were able to save his left leg and arm. However, the injuries to his right leg resulted in the amputation of his leg below the knee. Ramiz says that the first several weeks after the amputation were a ''just a dull blur''. After he was discharged from the hospital, with support of a close friend, Ramiz managed to arrange a trip to Germany, where he was fitted for his first prosthesis.

After the initial shock was over, the reality started to sink in. Ramiz was going through "the most difficult time in his life", asking himself how will he feed his wife and a six-moths old son. Previous ambitions and life plans were soon replaced by frightening uncertainty. In addition to the problem of economic sustainability, the young family had no proper housing. As a result of the war, many families—including Ramiz’s—were moved to temporary accommodations during the worst of the fighting. With the war over, many of the families were being evicted. Ramiz says that he felt desperate and could not see a way out.

LSN Outreach Worker Adnan Alisic met Ramiz in April 2000, just after the family had been evicted from their previous home and had moved in with Ramiz’s parents. While trying to move forward with his life, Ramiz’s successes were few and far between. He began avoiding his family, drinking heavily, and fell in to a deep depression.

Ramiz’s introduction to Outreach Worker Alisic brought about positive and long awaited changes. Through regular peer meetings, he was able to analyze his life and develop a new plan for his future. For the first time in many years, Ramiz felt like he was taking charge of the futures of himself and his family. Says Ramiz, “I felt overwhelmed with the responsibility of taking care of my family again, but with the support and guidance of my Outreach Worker, I felt confident taking on my new challenge.”

After a year and a half of peer-to-peer support, Ramiz felt strong enough to take concrete steps towards resolution of the family's housing problem. With the support of his extended family and a housing donation of the Cantonal government, he secured a mortgage to buy his first home. This was a wonderful moment Ramiz and his family, which gave them a solid foundation to build on.

However, Ramiz still did not have a job that paid enough to support his family. Alisic recommended that Ramiz joined an LSN support group for economic integration and attended the group meetings for the next six months. The group discussed successful experiences and constructive ideas to help each other succeed in business opportunities. With the knowledge gained from the support group meetings and Alisic’s help developing a business plan, Ramiz decided to begin a small business growing tomatoes in a greenhouse. In March 2004, LSN-Bosnia provided the materials for the construction of Ramiz’s greenhouse.

Soon after his business began, Ramiz became well known in the local community and his reputation as an honest, hard working, determined man ensured him a quality and very secure market for his produce. This, needless to say, was an added motivational factor. However, according to Ramiz, his most proud accomplishment was the day that he was able to donate 200 kg of fresh tomatoes to a local orphanage. “It was an incredible moment when, after so many years of being helped by others, that I could help others in need. I was no longer the beneficiary, but a benefactor.”

The experience of owning a greenhouse became an enormous turning point in Ramiz’s life. “I feel like I have finally eliminated that horrible feeling of uncertainty, and can plan for my future,” says Ramiz. Ramiz’s wife says that her husband is unrecognizable from the man he was just a few years—very self assured, confident, and ambitious.

Ramiz, claims that LSN has changed his life. “If it was not for the LSN Outreach Worker, Adnan Alisic, I would still be wasting my days drinking and my future would be uncertain. Thanks to the LSN support, my family has a strong husband and father again, and with my new business, our future is no longer uncertain.”

LSN continues to monitor Ramiz's progress. To further motivate and empower him, Ramiz was invited to attend the LSN organized training in agricultural and vegetable production. Ramiz not only feels in charge of his life, but also has big aspirations for the future. He hopes to soon purchase the materials to build a second greenhouse, expand his production, and hire an employee—hopefully another landmine survivor, so that he may help a fellow amputees reclaim their life and hopes for the future.

View the next profile: Mustafa Suvalic

Less than 10 percent of landmine survivors have access to proper medical care and rehabilitation. Please visit our Donate Now section and see what you can do to help landmine survivors around the world.

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