WeDoBackstory

Matt and Rowan have been living in Bosnia and Herzegovina since 2008. How did two people seemingly rooted in the south east of England find themselves transplanted to the south east corner of Europe? It's a question they're often asked so here is the backstory, and it's almost entirely Rowan's tale to tell.

"When I was fifteen I became aware of the war going in the Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was the first war I'd really been aware of in my lifetime. A group of churches in Reading, the town I grew up in, arranged coaches to bring refugees to the UK. A girl who was a few years older than me joined my class at school and we became friends. I found a book called 'Miracle in Mostar' which told the story of a Croatian couple who moved to Mostar to bring hope and humanitarian aid in the midst of the conflict. (This work was was the beginning of what became Novi Most International.) The more I heard about the war the more I wanted to do something to help, but I was only fifteen.

Matt is suitably unsure in Sarajevo!
Fifteen years later my friend had moved back to Sarajevo. One day I had a message on Facebook saying she was getting married the next month and would we like to come to the wedding. I asked Matt if we could go to Sarajevo for that weekend and he said yes. Then I remembered 'Miracle in Mostar' and googled 'Novi Most' to see if the organisation still existed. It did and on their homepage was an advert for a couple to help start a new project in a new location in Bosnia. I thought this had to be a sign although Matt wasn't so sure!

After our four days in Sarajevo we agreed I should contact Novi Most. The next day we went into a staff meeting at work that announced a planned restructuring. There couldn't have been a better time to talk about leaving! And so just two months after an unexpected wedding invite, and just a month after our first visit, it became official news that we were on our way to Bosnia and Herzegovina. That was the start of 2008 and the next nine months were a busy period of preparing to leave the UK, working out what our work with Novi Most International would look like and raising the ongoing support necessary to live as volunteers workers. At the beginning of that September we loaded a bunch of possessions into a Transit van and headed off across Europe for our new adventure."