Al Jazeera World


One man fights to save the life of his daughter, then himself, finding redemption in helping others avoid his own fate.

Last updated: 02 Apr 2014 10:54
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Almir Cehajic was a practising dentist, actor, and radio and TV presenter living in Sarajevo. Also known as Batko, his life was turned upside down in 2000 when his newborn baby daughter was diagnosed with a serious heart condition.

Treatment would have to be highly specialised and very expensive. But Batko managed to raise as much as €50,000 ($69,000) in the matter of a few days from friends as well as strangers. Although the surgery was initially successful, his daughter Asja died a few months later.

You get the diagnosis and realise your child is dying. Then, there is the humiliation you have to go through to save her life. And you turn into a beast, with no human qualities.

Almir Cehajic

But this was only the start of his ordeal as many so-called friends started to demand their money back. This led Batko into a serious spiral of massive loan-shark debt, driving him to the edge of wanting to take his own life.

In this unusual and personal film, Cehajic tells his own dramatic story. He tells of his descent into poverty, his survival against the odds and, finally, his mission to provide financial assistance to others needing expensive and life-saving medical treatment.

Cehajic has founded an organisation called Open Network. The group works to raise funds for some of the most desperately ill people in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Cehajic also hosts a radio show called Udri Muski in which he highlights cases of people who are chronically ill and need help financing their treatments. Many hundreds of people have been helped by these initiatives.

So far, he has helped save over 100 lives.

Nevertheless, Cehajic still has to deal with the fallout from his many years of borrowing money and making dubious financial deals.

There are those who say he still owes money to many people and that his humanitarian activities are not as simple and clean cut as they seem. Cehajic denies these claims and continues his work with the Open Network.

In this film, he shares his story - a tale of love, loss and the stark realities of battling life-threatening afflictions.

Al Jazeera World can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Tuesday: 2000; Wednesday: 1200; Thursday: 0100; Friday: 0600; Saturday: 2000; Sunday: 1200; Monday: 0100; Tuesday: 0600. 

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