BRCKO, Bosnia (Reuters) - Dajana Djuric, believed to be the only female chimney sweep in Bosnia and Herzegovina, has to contend with perilous roofs in the depth of winter and the occasional vicious dog in the course of her work.
Djuric, 25, started to learn her trade aged six from her father, who set up a chimney-sweep business after working in Germany. A local belief that seeing a chimney sweep brings you luck - as long as you touch a button on your clothing - helps to bring in custom.
After training as an environmental technician in Brcko, Djuric learned more about the trade in Belgrade as an apprentice sweep. A degree in ecology and environmental protection followed in the city of Banja Luka.
“It was more like a hobby in the beginning, a hobby that would later become the real deal,” says Djuric, who worked as a chimney sweep throughout her university studies.
She is now preparing a master’s thesis about chimneys and tries to combine time-honored practices of the trade with a concern for the environment. Smoke from chimneys adds to air pollution if they are not cleaned properly, she says.
The family business makes use of modern equipment, including inspection cameras, and applies ecological methods to clean and maintain chimneys and boiler rooms.
The job of a chimney sweep isn’t without its downside.
“Winter is the worst,” she says. “Once I was severely hurt when I fell from the roof, from a height of almost five meters. I had to lie down and rest for nearly three months.”
Snow-laden rooftops are not the only challenge.
While cleaning a chimney and boiler room recently, a dog - clearly unaware that a chimney sweep brings good fortune - attacked and bit Djuric on the neck.
Reporting by Dado Ruvic; Writing by Brian McGee; Editing by Gareth Jones