Super Sanja

A FORMER Yugoslavian refugee who arrived in Australia unable to speak English is now a WA finalist in the multicultural business excellence awards.

The national AusMumpreneur award is for women who run a business and are a mum, and with two-year-old twins, Cockburn’s Sanja Tesic knows all about juggling commerce and nappies.

A qualified neuro linguistic programer, she runs her own lifestyle business Blue Gerbera, focussing on empowering young adults as a transition coach.

Amazingly, Tasic arrived in WA as a refugee aged 13, unable to speak English.

As the former Yugoslavia broke apart amid the chaos of civil war, Ms Tesic’s family lost everything and they fled their hometown.

For five years the eight-year-old and her family moved dozens of times to avoid the conflict; at times cowering with strangers as bombs fell all around them.

“I would hear a plane and then I would see it,” she writes in her book Born to Bloom: From Hardship to Happiness.

“Fear cut through my existence whilst I waited for the bomb to be dropped.

“Then I would assure myself that this bomb was not close enough to kill.”

• Sanja Tesic. Photo supplied

When she was 11 her father failed to come home from work and the family assumed he’d been killed in gunfire.

Four days later they saw television footage of him being arrested.

Initial elation turned to fear “when we realised he might have been shot or imprisoned after that film had been taken and we might never see him again.”

Three months later he returned emaciated, traumatised and weak, “but he was alive and he was with us again and that was all that mattered.”

The family qualified for refugee status in Australia, and Ms Tesic quickly learned English as part of the language program at Melville High School, later going to South Fremantle High School (now Fremantle College) and Notre Dame University.

“I believe we are all born to bloom, you can choose to be a victim or a victor,” Ms Tesic says.

“If you want to be a victor you need to change your mindset.”

Apart from being an easy read, Born to Bloom is a self-help book with eight lessons on getting the most out of life.

“Learning new patterns and unlearning old patterns that don’t serve you.”

The AusMumpreneur winners are announced in Sydney at the end of the month.

by JENNY D’ANGER

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