Friday May 10, 2013

Growing Raspberries in Bosnia

Islamic Relief is providing 1,400 Islamic loans per year to support the livelihoods of vulnerable Bosnian families.

The project, which has been running since 2001, provides interest-free loans to widows, returnees and people injured in Bosnia’s war in the 1990s.

The loans are available to people who are looking to start a business, receive training or education, or to repair and rebuild houses that were destroyed in the war.

Bico Hamid is a father-of-two who struggled to meet the needs of his family on the small living he makes as a bus driver.

As the needs of his family grew, and prices began to rise, Bico knew he would need to find a way to increase his income. He decided that he would use the land in his garden to build a greenhouse where he could grow food.

“The salary I earn as bus driver wasn’t enough to cover our living costs, but with the income I will generate from my greenhouse, I’ll be able to support my family, in particular my children who are attending school. Through education my children will be able to have better lives, and help to build a stable economy in Bosnia.”

Bico knew that the bus company he works for were replacing the glass on their vehicles. Unable to afford to buy all the raw materials, Bico bought the old glass from the bus company.

Bico received a micro-finance loan from Islamic Relief which will allow him to buy the remaining glass needed and the metal infrastructure.

Mujic Re?id is a farmer who lives close to Srebrenica, where around 8,000 boys and men- including Mujic’s father- were massacred in 1995. Initially, Mujic received an interest-free loan to grow around two square miles of raspberries. Although the raspberries provided him with good business, his farm is remote and he struggled to get the produce to the local towns.
Once Mujic had repaid the loan, he was offered another in order to buy a horse, which he uses to transport the raspberries, as well as mushrooms, which he now also grows. Mujic and his neighbours also use the horse to work their land and for transportation.

The war in Bosnia and Herzegovina took place between 1992 and 1995 and was the cause of 258,000 deaths and disappearances, 2,000,000 people being made refugees 20,000 rapes, and 445,000 destroyed houses. Today, 20% of the population lives below poverty line and 56% of families have an income under 256 Euros.

Islamic Relief first began working in Bosnia at the start of the war, in 1992.

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