30 Maggio 2014

Nedzmija Music’story


Nedzmija Music’ story

Bosnia. Nedzmija showing what was once a greenhouse full of riped cucumbers

Janja is the village south of Bijeljina, of around 14.000 inhabitants. Most of them are farmers, involved in small agricultural production, while the cattle is significant part of their livelihood.

Nedžmija Musić lives with her husband in a small house, with a bit of land around it, where they cultivate some fruits and vegetables for their own use and some extra for the local market. Before the floods, they had two green houses and five cows.

Nedžmija talks of their first night of floods: “It was constantly raining for the whole day and night, during which everyone stayed awake. The cows spent the night standing in the water up to their stomach. We took two of them during the night to our neighbour, who lives in the higher ground, hoping to save at least two of them if the water continued to rise.”

Then, during the night, the water rose to the level which completely trapped them in their home. The electricity went out, there were no telephone lines and mobile phone batteries were running out fast.

Nedzmija showing how high the water was
The water rose up to the stairs
“We could hear cows in the barn, and the green house being completely destroyed, but could not do anything about it, could not go out of the house. Then, the cows went silent. We thought they drowned”, said Nedžmija. At dawn, they found out that the neighbour has taken the remaining three cows to the safety of his barn, as it was in the dry patch.
Although the water did not enter their house, Musić family could not get out for three days, as it was too high.
“ First, it was gushing through the gate like a river. We were in panic, it looked as if it will never stop rising. It was filling our yard fast, and it rose to up to our door step. We were thinking it will enter the house any minute, that is it. I was on the tranquilizers, could not take it anymore.”

In the morning of the fourth day the water retreated enough for them to go out and assess the damage done by it. One of the green houses was completely washed away, all together with the cucumber plants, ready to pick. The field where it stood once, looked as if nothing was ever there.

Our neighbour saved our cows, feeding them and milking all this time. We are so grateful for that. He saved practically half of our possessions. We depend so much on them and he knows this. When we thanked him, he simply said that he knows we would do the same for him, if need be. We are so grateful,” Nedžmija repeats.

She shows the destroyed green houses, one of them still standing there, in need of heavy repairs. Nedžmija adds:”We were also growing some chickens for market, all 61 of them gone, could not save them. My husband tried to save some of the potatoes this morning, but most of them are in the rotting stage, having spent three days under water. But, we are alive, and will make it happen again.”

Nedžmija also adds that they are just simple people, trying to live of their own work, but in the last four years the nature has turned against them twice, as there was flooding in 2010, but not on this scale. “And, last year, we also had strong hale during summer, which destroyed large part of our crops.”

Bosnia. Nedzija Music son cleaning arround the house
Nedzija Music’son

Nedžmija says that it is not unusual to experience some kind of floods in this area, but it would come for one day, produce some problems, a bit of wet, muddy grounds and it would leave fast. This time, it was fast, high and very scary. And it stayed on for days. “We have never seen so much water in our own yard. The only way to escape would be by the boat, but we did not have one. That added to the panic, you know.”

She said they will try to save the year by replanting some cucumbers and tomatoes, which they hope have enough time for growth until end of season, and potatoes. “For anything else now it is too late”, says she, pointing to the small plants of cucumbers and tomatoes she already bought for re-planting.

They have received some help in food, rubber gloves and hygiene products. Their son and daughter are helping with everything around the house. “We are constantly missing extra pair of hands,” shays she. “We have to clean and disinfect everything, re-build and plant green houses again, take care of the cows, get the food, and it is only four of us”, she points to her son, cleaning the barn. As we were leaving this family, Nedžmija kept repeating:”But, it could have been worse, we are all alive and well and grateful for that!”

Oxfam is working with local partners and international community to coordinate urgent response, while also assessing the assistance it can provide in the period ahead.

90% of the population in the flooded areas are small and medium farmers, under heavy debts invested in the seeding and machinery, most of which is now gone, while the debts remain. They are the main beneficiaries of Oxfam long term interventions in flood affected areas. Oxfam will support small and medium farmers to recover easier and to alleviate the consequences caused to them and their families by the disastrous floods.
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