Bread with the Taste of Hope

Straight from the oven: the citizens of Bosansko Grahovo can finally buy fresh bread in their own town

Straight from the oven: the citizens of Bosansko Grahovo can finally buy fresh bread in their own town

Bread offered to customers in a bakery owned by a returnee couple in Bosansko Grahovo has a special taste – a taste of hope for better future

„Opening of the bakery means a lot for the whole community, and especially for the kids“, says Aleksandra Erceg.„Opening of the bakery means a lot for the whole community, and especially for the kids“, says Aleksandra Erceg.

Returnees’ bread is certainly hard earned, but the bread offered to customers in their bakery by Branka and Miroslav Arežina, a young returnee couple to Bosansko Grahovo, is fresh, warm and it has a special taste – a taste of hope for better future.

On every school day, when the bell announces the break or the end of lessons, pupils from a nearby primary school swarm to Klas Bakery in Bosansko Grahovo. Cheerful pupils noisily rush into the bakery only to emerge a few moments latter carrying warm smiles on their faces and hot bread rolls in hands. After this daily invasion, it is time for the workers to start preparing new dough for the products that will populate ‘desolated’ shelves.

No matter how common this scene looks – school children buying bread rolls in a bakery, until recently it wasn’t common in Bosansko Grahovo, actually it wasn’t common for the past twenty years. Namely, in a town with a population of 1,000, mostly returnees, there was not a single bakery until a young returnee couple opened Klas Bakery several months ago.

Branka and Miroslav Arežina lived as refugees in Prijedor. Both of them worked in baking industry for years, but, as they say, they didn’t have means to make a decent living. In pursuit of better living, they eventually went back to their home town to do what they knew the best – bake bread.

An opportunity presented itself in a form of a donation they obtained through the “Applying the Human Security Concept to Stabilize Communities in Canton 10” project.

“This donation enabled us to procure necessary bakery equipment – an oven, a mixer, a counter and showcases, and without those we wouldn’t be able to start working,” says Miroslav.

“It was hard in the beginning, but the Municipality helped us a lot. Whatever we needed, the Municipality was there for us,” Branka adds.

Branka Arežina, “It was hard in the beginning, but the Municipality helped us a lot.”Branka Arežina, “It was hard in the beginning, but the Municipality helped us a lot.”

Bogdan Runić, Project Assistant in IOM–UN Migration Agency, also emphasises the active role and considerable contribution made by the local authorities. The Municipality helped the young returnees by securing facility where the bakery is placed today, but it also helped in its renovation. And not only that: as Miroslav’s house was devastated in the war and hasn’t been rebuilt yet, the Municipality helped them in finding accommodation and offered support by paying rent for the first three months.

The citizens of Bosansko Grahovo can finally buy fresh bread in their own town daily. Previously, bread was being delivered from Drvar and Livno. Every day, the bakery spreads the smell of fresh bread, rolls, salty rolls, sweet rolls, twists, pretzels, different pies, and rolls with chocolate and fruit topping, which are especially appreciated by the children.

Aleksandra Erceg enters the bakery with her little son. The boy immediately ‘glues’ to the showcase displaying rolls with chocolate topping. Aleksandra, a returnee to Drvar who married to Bosansko Grahovo says, “Opening of the bakery means really a lot for the whole community. Now that we can come and buy fresh, warm rolls, that really means a lot, especially for the youngest, who are – I can say – eager of pizza, and bread rolls, and croissants, and the rest.”

The opening of the bakery also meant creating two jobs: for Branka and Miroslav this represents an opportunity to make living by their own work and to build a decent future for themselves in their home town.

Each new job has a special significance for the returnee community, and each public service is precious for the citizens. It is especially the case in towns such as Bosansko Grahovo in Canton 10, one of the least developed areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Securing better conditions of life, improving social services and other forms of support for vulnerable groups are just some of the goals of the “Applying the Human Security Concept to Stabilize Communities in Canton 10” project jointly implemented by UNDP, UNHCR, UNICEF and IOM agencies in partnership with Canton 10 Government, municipal authorities and civil society organizations. The project is funded by the UN Trust Fund for Human Security (UNTFHS).