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Child of war thrives at Salford

Wednesday 28 March 2018

A SALFORD student who was rescued from Bosnia during the civil war has described her life in the UK.

Lejla Damon, whose birth mother was raped while she was in a concentration camp, was rescued from the former Yugoslavia by two British journalists and brought back to live in the UK. 

After going to school in London, Lejla, now 25, is completing an MBA at the University of Salford Business School, after her first degree at the University of the Creative Arts and time spent in the retail sector.

Lejla, who is just one of many children born from the mass rapes throughout the Yugoslav wars, is grateful for the courage of both her adoptive parents, Dan and Sian Damon, who risked their lives to smuggle her out of war torn Sarajevo, and the courage of her birth mother. 

Despite such a difficult start to life Lejla is thriving in her adopted country and plans a career in business.

She said: “I can understand why my Mum put me up for adoption or didn’t want to keep me. It was such a traumatic experience for her, I don’t feel any resentment at all.

“I feel very lucky in many ways. People should be grateful for what they have.”

Dan and Sian were reporting from a hospital when they met Lejla’s mother, who told them she did not want to keep her child. They smuggled Lejla back to the UK.

The Yugoslav war was the most deadly in Europe since the Second World War. In its four years it claimed 200,000 lives and displaced 2.7 million people.

Lejla said: “I’ve had a very nice life, I’ve had a good education, I’ve had fun and I’ve done all the things children are meant to do when they’re younger. I’m very grateful to my parents.

“I pay tribute to my parents, who proved that one act of courage can make a difference. I was just one child of many in a desperate situation but they did not stand by.

“Now I’m planning to finish my MBA and start my career.”

When she completes her course Lejla wants to use her expertise to work in logistics in the NGO sector, helping children in other countries who have been affected by war, as well as continuing her work with charity War Child.

Lejla will be part of the Remembering Srebrenica event later this year.

“It is heartening to know that this event will unite thousands. There is no greater courage than that of survivors who continue,” she said.

Remembering Srebrenica’s Memorial Week will be held between 8th – 15th July 2018. More information about the theme, and how to hold a memorial event, can be found at the organisation’s website.

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Sam Wood

0161 295 5361