Still recovering from the war in the 1990's, Gračanica is a provincial town near the citry of Tuzla in the north east of Bosnia Herzegovina.
Our Children's Village not only looks after children who lost their parents during the war, but also people affected by the aftermath.
A country torn apart by civil war
In the early 1990's, Bosnia Herzegovina was torn apart by a civil war as the regions of the former Yugoslavia fought from independence from Belgrade. The worst war on Europe's borders since World War 2, thousands of civilians were caught up in the massacres and ethnic cleansing that took place in the region.
Prior to the war, located in the district of Tuzla, Gračanica used to be considered the regional cultural centre of the district until the beginning of the 20th Century because of its mosques, schools and libraries. 12,711 people live there now, with 55,000 in the town's hinterlands.
Until 2003 the town had salt mines and salt works which closed down, putting many out of work. The district of Tuzla still has coal mines and Bosnia's main electrical power plant, which form a major part of the area's economy.
Children were caught up in the war
During the breakup of Yugoslavia the town suffered badly. Warring sides enacted massacres of civilians, and many children were orphaned as a result. The regional capital of Tuzla saw some of the worst atrocities in the fighting, traumatising many of the residents and dividing communities along ethnic lines.
Gračanica is still in recovery from the war, which split communities and caused acute ethnic divisions. Children suffer from their families' economic situation, which has not improved greatly in the years ensuing the conflict. Many are forced to leave home at an early age seeking a better life by looking after themselves.
What we do in Gracanica
SOS Children's Villages arrived in three years after the war in 1998, setting up SOS Children's Village Gračanica. It found a community deeply divided along ethnic lines, and has worked hard to intervene in these situations.
Children who can longer live with their parents can find a loving home in one of 12 SOS families, cared for by SOS Mothers, which can house up to 78 children. These children attend local schools and participate in their community, forging links and networks in their home town.
As they grow up, young adults can move into one of our homes in the nearby city of Tuzla, which is about 50km away from Gračanica. The youth programme there can house up to 34 young people semi-independently while they attend higher education or receive vocational training. Our qualified staff support them as they gain independence and learn to make their own decisions. We encourage them to make links with their community and potential employers.
We support vulnerable children in Gračanica, ensuring they have a bright future. Will you help these children, and become a child sponsor today?