Željko Bajić – The Pioneer
THE FIRST BLIND JOURNALIST IN EX-YUGOSLAVIA
Story, photos, videos & audio by Elodie Armand
Can one be a good journalist without using his own eyes ? Željko Bajić took the challenge. In 1986, he became the first blind radio reporter in Former-Yugoslavia.
Željko Bajić is moving along the corridors in the premises of BH-radio, in Sarajevo. He is calm, he has certain confidence in himself. No sun-glasses, no walking stick. Sometimes he accepts an arm. Simplicity is radiating from his person, he doesn’t put on a show. But, this man, of average size and dark hair, took the reins of his own destiny into his hands.
The 53 years old started his carrier as a reporter for B-H radio in 1986. It was only the support of his family and his wife and own determination that lead him to his dream job. He fought for his rights and enrolled into faculty of journalism, though few people predicted his failure for him. Encouragement from a friend enabled him to forward. ” He was professor in a middle school here in Sarajevo. He had contact with people in radio in the city and he suggested the director to give me a chance in a program. And for me this chance would be useful ”, Željko Bajić remembers. Having gained reassurement in this experience, he knocked on doors of others medias and they let him in.
Far away of his country, close of his microphone
In 1989, he contacted BBC and proposed a programme to people with disabilities. They didn’t want his idea, but they wanted him, Željko Bajić, to prepare topics about politic, culture and economy. Then the war happened and he found himself as a refuge in Moscow. Far from his country, he doesn’t loose his passion.
He calls Voice of America in Serbia and submits topics about Russia. This collaboration leads to Macedonia where he meets a journalist who proposes him to work for Radio France International. The recognition after several years of work.
Experienced and recognised, he decides in 2003 to go back to where it all began. He returns to work in Sarajevo for the radio that gave him the first chance. “ I prepare two radio shows : one dedicated to european integration, and another dedicated to persons with disabilities. Since very recently, I’m an editor of a talk show, it’s called ‘Week” .
Since this time others blind people have followed his example. “Here in Bosnia, we have three or four persons. In Banja Luka, you have one girl who works in Radio Balkans. You have one journalist who prepares regular everyday programs for radio Tomislavgrad, And one young man works half-time in radio Jablanica ”, the journalist enumerates.
Progress of technics before human values
Željko Bajić is sceptical when he thinks about the professional future of persons with disabilities. “Our society is now very complicated compared with times from 20 years ago. In my time existed more human values. Now, everything is only about the price of work that persons with disabilities cost “, he analyzes. The journalist considers that the enthusiasm has disappeared from both sides. Blind persons are disappointed because the access to job is difficult. And the employers don’t want to invest in the specific material for them.
The antagonism of the technological progress who should facilitate life of persons with disabilities but excludes them in taking their place.