"I woke up to thundering sounds. It was in the middle of the night. The ground was shaking and windowpanes were rattling. I was eight years old, scared, and hoping the earthquake would go away.

"When my parents rushed into my room, I could tell from the expression on their faces that something was terribly wrong. 'Don't worry,' my mom said, hugging me. How did she expect me not to worry when worry was written all over her face? (Later I was told that those explosions were bombs going off.)

"From that day onwards, life became a daily nightmare," says Denis Glibic, who is now in the UAE, working as a trainee in the sales and marketing (division) at Kempinski Hotel Ajman.

It's been 14 years since that terrible night but Glibic still shudders at the memory of it.


Glibic was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina (former Yugoslavia) and life was as normal as it could be for a child - playing, riding bikes with friends, watching cartoons in the evening ? Until that fateful night in 1992, when war broke out in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"The events that followed are a blur in my mind. I only know that life never went back to normal. I (and other children) stopped going to school. Machine gun shots and explosions became everyday's background music. We just stayed and waited - perhaps for things to get better," he says.

In November 1992, as the situation deteriorated, the Glibic family decided to go and live with relatives in Slovenia. "We left our big house and all our possessions behind. We just took what could fit into the car.

"When we fled from Bosnia, we spent a night in a hotel in Austria. It's one of my most cherished memories because suddenly, it was all so quiet. It was snowing heavily outside, but inside our cosy room, everything was warm and safe. After almost a year, I went to bed feeling safe and without battle sounds to disturb my sleep," Glibic recalls.

After spending a year in Slovenia, all the while monitoring the situation at home, they realised returning was not an option. They then moved to the Netherlands.

"It took some time for us to adapt to the new place. Back home, the language of instruction at school was Bosnian and now I had to learn Dutch. However, I managed to learn it fairly quickly and was even doing well at school. I think living in a war-torn zone made me grow up faster than my peers who had grown up in a peaceful environment. This contrast of circumstances helped me put things in perspective.

"I know what it is like to lose all your possessions overnight. I have also learnt that starting from scratch isn't impossible. Nothing seems impossible to me any more.

"When life rolls its dice at you, you just have to make your best move. (Which is why perhaps) when I came to the UAE five months ago, I didn't have problems adjusting to the new environment," he says.