Maya Maja, was born in Yugoslavia and moved to the United States with her daughter and ex-husband towards the end of 1995.

Fleeing the pressures of ethnic conflict and ethnic cleansing taking place in the Balkans, Maja started working two weeks after leaving the refugee camp.

Three years after being in the states, Maja’s strength grew more than imaginable when she left her husband due to abuse. “I had to learn language, how to read, write, spell. All on my own. Well I did learn a lot teaching my daughter how to speak English with those little cards,” Maja said.

By throwing herself into multiple jobs to keep herself and her daughter afloat, Maja refused to let all the grueling issues bog her down. “Finally after all these years, in March of this year, due to some unfortunate circumstances, I finally broke down. I am finally dealing and working through PTSD that was brought on by war. I am dealing with anxiety and depression. I am dealing with and working through what I didn’t have time for 20 years ago,” Maja said.

Maja’s therapist suggested that she try to express her internal conflicts in an artistic way. “That is how my whole artistic adventure started, expression through mixture of spray painting, incorporation of textures in my art, poetry, and photography,” Maja said.

Maja relayed her story with a reserved conviction and excitement for her future. “What I am searching for in my life now is acceptance,” she said. “World peace. Understanding of different religions. Understanding and support for people like me that lived through things that no one should, and survived.”

Throughout her journey Maja retains hope for each phase of her life. “Understanding of PTSD, mental issues and how to deal with them. My only family here is my daughter. She is my everything. If it wasn’t for her being born who knows if I would be alive now to tell you all of this,” Maja says . !