The night of the delivery, Ljupka, 32, arrived at the Child Friendly Space to work her regular night-shift. Ljupka is a nurse and trained midwife at the SOS Child Friendly Space near the Serbian-Croatian border. SOS Children’s Villages operates Child Friendly Spaces to provide safe places where children can play, learn and receive support during emergencies and crises – like the current refugee crisis.
An hour into her shift, Ljupka explains that she heard a commotion coming from the next room. "The doctor next door was yelling, ‘She's giving birth! I need a midwife,’" says Ljupka.
Ljupka did not hesitate and rushed to the doctor to ask if she could offer her assistance in delivering the baby. The doctor agreed. Ljupka explains that when she entered the room the expecting mother’s water had already broken.
"The labour was far advanced. Once we got her on the bed and undressed, the baby was already crowning,” says Ljupka. “When the mother got her next contraction, I gently pressed her stomach. The baby came right out."
Ljupka speaks with a smile about the evening she helped the refugee mother from Iraq deliver her baby girl, who she named Hatija. After the birth, the mother and her newly born daughter were brought to the nearest maternity ward. Later that evening, Ljupka received an update that Hatija and her mother, Naima, were healthy and stable.
Maja Simic, a co-worker at SOS Children's Villages, delivered clothes, nappies, hygiene goods, and a baby carrier to the hospitalised mother and baby. The mother contacted her husband in Germany to give him the good news.
"It was an emotional encounter," Maja recalled. "Naima said she just wants to continue to Germany. We found one volunteer who travelled with them up to Slovenia."
The situation at the Child Friendly SpaceHatija’s birth story may be a positive one but escaping terror does not end the plight of the refugees. The Child Friendly Space that Hatija was delievered in is located at a transit centre in Adasevci, Serbia. The Space serves refugees, especially families, who are awaiting to enter into Croatia and beyond.
Ljupka explains that working as a nurse during the refugee crisis has been difficult. "It’s one thing to be a nurse in normal conditions. Here, there are many challenges. On my first day, I was really scared but, day-by-day, it became easier."
One major challenge is hygiene, especially for infants and mothers. Ljupka says that refugee families have no proper place to bathe in the area. Many children also have colds or viruses. The Adasevci centre accommodates around 500 people. The medical field clinic is operated by Doctors Without Borders.
Ljupka's bravery was quickly recognised by her SOS colleagues, her family and the local news. She explains that the doctor who she assisted said, “I wouldn't have known what to do if you had not shown up.”
Ljupka is continuing to care for children at the Child Friendly Space at the Adasevci Centre. The nurse says she believes the delivery of the girl made her stronger, but adds that the support she has received from her colleagues means the world.
"We help each other,” she explains. “In these circumstances, you learn to depend on your co-workers and be their support. We, the co-workers of SOS Children's Villages, are a tight team and I'm proud to be part of it."
SOS Children is supporting refugees in 10 countries across the Middle East and Europe. Help us provide safety and stability to refugee children.