Bedrija Jazic arrived in the United States in 1996 after fleeing her native Bosnia with her family after the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
When the war broke out, Bedrija, a high school English teacher, and her husband, Fuad, a veterinarian, were living in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia, with their 18-month-old daughter, Dalilah. Sarajevo became a war zone, and inhabitants lived under siege for more than three years, “under constant fire with no power, no water, no food and no way to get out of the city,” Bedrija says. More than 10,000 people were killed during those years.
Although the war ended in 1995, Bedrija and her family no longer felt safe when people that they recognized as snipers moved back into their neighborhood. Her family travelled to nearby Croatia and in February of 1996 applied for resettlement to the United States. Their request was quickly approved, and they arrived in the United States on the day the summer Olympics were beginning in Atlanta – July 17. They ended up in Columbia, SC, where Bedrija’s sister had resettled a year earlier.
Fluent in English, Bedrija was in a good position to make a graceful transition to life in the United States. Within three months of arriving, Bedrija had found a job working as a receptionist with what was then Lutheran Family Services, volunteering when she could with Refugee Services to help other Bosnian refugees.
Now, as the director of Refugee Services for Lutheran Services Carolinas, she brings to the position the kind of knowledge that can’t come from a class or a book.
Story by Katie Scarvey, LSC Communications Specialist