Sakib Ramić Tobi, a Bosniak and a resident in the Roma community in Bosanska Dubica, has been anticipating for the past 15 days the return of Milenko Gajić, a Bosnian Serb and a young man whom Sakib accepted as his own son last year. Milenko recently left home.
“I think he is staying with some girl in Bosanska Dubica. He came here one night, took a shower and left again. That is why I am sure he will come back again. This is not the first time he runs away, he is afraid that he might be institutionalized,” said Sakib through tears. He met Milenko after returning from the hospital, where he spent full five months.
Sakib found Milenko sleeping on hay in the smithy and received him in his home right away, without any questions.
“I told him not to be afraid because I could see that he is petrified. He twitched in his dream all the time. My neighbors helped me, we got him some clothes. The next day I called the people from the Social Care Center and they agreed that I should take care of him for a while,” said Sakib and added that he understands why the child, whom he got to love with all his heart, is wandering around.
Sakib himself lost his entire family in four years, two sons and his wife. He understands all Milenko’s fears, especially from people, he also understands his occasional mischiefs, even the petty theft that Sakib is constantly trying to draw Milenko off.
“He was not stealing because he wanted to, but because he was hungry. I would like him to stay with me. I would give my life for that, I would adopt him, provide for him, teach him a craft. When he came, he could not even sign. He has forgotten everything, and he completed four grades of elementary school,” said Sakib, who even justified Milenko’s mother, who is currently living in Klekovci near Bosanska Dubica with her allegedly fourth husband.
They recently visited her, together. Sakib believes that the mother loves Milenko, but that the stepfather is a problem because he cannot understand a 17-year-old boy who has been wandering around for years.
Deep down, Sakib is convinced that this story might end well. And he does not want the happy ending because of himself, but because of Milenko who deserves a much better life.
Branko Arnaut, Director of the Social Care Center in Bosanska Dubica, said that they have been monitoring this case for years.
“Milenko was born in an extramarital community. He is a child with special needs who could not continue schooling. We know he is staying with Sakib. We help them in every way we can, and the solution would eventually be a foster family,” said Arnaut.