SANJA Tesic says gratitude has changed her life.
But it is undeniable that her positive approach to jumping at chances was also a key, if her latest opportunity is anything to go by.
The Yangebup woman will be a guest speaker at the International Women’s Day (IWD) Luncheon at Crown Perth on March 23.
Ms Tesic was offered the chance at the launch of her book, Born to Bloom: From Hardship to Happiness, in November by Momentum Forum Events chief executive Barbara McNaught.
“I said ‘yes’, but I didn’t know why she was asking,” Ms Tesic said.
“I said ‘I’m free’.”
Ms McNaught said the message within Ms Tesic’s book aligned with the mission of IWD.
“By Sanja sharing her story, she empowers women and proves that anything is possible if you believe in yourself,” she said.
Ms Tesic, a Yangebup resident, has quite an incredible story.
Growing up in former Yugoslavia, her family was forced to flee their home in 1991, just days after Ms Tesic’ eighth birthday.
“Mum grabbed one bag and we went to the periphery of the town where my aunty lived,” she said.
“My mum said ‘we’re just going there for the weekend and we’ll come back’.
“We actually never went back.”
Her family spent the next five years as refugees, before her policeman father was taken captive for three months.
The first they knew of his arrest was seeing it on television.
“When he got out mum didn’t recognise him. That’s how much weight he lost,” Ms Tesic said.
“He said ‘I’m going to see where we can escape because I don’t see a future for the kids here’.
“He was just so disappointed.”
At 13, Ms Tesic arrived in Australia where her family has built a nice life for themselves.
Ms Tesic, an author, transition coach and parent, has thrived.
“It’s a lot you could be hateful about but on the other side we’re all alive and healthy and our family is here together,” she said.
“That’s the most important thing.”
That attitude is what Ms Tesic will focus on during her talk later in the month.
“I am a victim but I choose to be a victor because I don’t see any other way to have a quality life,” she said.
The Most Inspiring Woman of the Year award will be presented to former tennis star, Jelena Dokic, at the Crown event.
IWD is held in support of the Kiss Violence Against Women Goodbye campaign.