Bosnia's Refugees: 'It was very hard going at first'

Dr Ela Smiljanic-Hurley

Dr Ela Smiljanic-Hurley

DR ELA SMILJANIC-HURLEY, 32,WAS 12 WHEN SHE WAS BROUGHT OUT OF MOSTAR. SHE GAINED A PHD IN ORGANIC CHEMISTRY FROM UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON AND NOW WORKS AT A MEDICAL RESEARCH CENTRE IN MILL HILL.

“After I came here with my family, I had a lot of hurdles to overcome,” she explains. “The war in Bosnia carried on for another few years. It was a very difficult time as most of my extended family stayed in Bosnia and we didn’t hear from them for long periods because the phone lines were broken. We would watch our home town being bombed on the news without knowing whether our relatives had survived.

“My sister and I started school without speaking the language, so it was very hard going for the first few months. I learned the language very quickly and when exam time came, I worked very hard to achieve good grades and I now work as a drug discovery scientist.”

She received financial support from WJR at university “and this really helped me to complete my studies”.

Last updated: 3:02pm, December 3 2012