SOS Children in Bosnia-Herzegovina
Two decades on, the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina is still struggling to recover from three years of bloody conflict in the early 1990s. Now, access to education is limited, especially in rural areas, and girls often fall victim to sexual exploitation. SOS Children has worked to help children in Bosnia since 1994.
You can help children in Bosnia by sponsoring a child with SOS Children:Sponsor a child in Bosnia
Recovering from conflict
After three years of war, infrastructure and the economy had been destroyed beyond recognition. Many people had lost their water and electricity supply, and schools, homes and roads had to be rebuilt. Unemployment stands at 45%, the highest in Europe, and one in five lives in poverty.
Children growing up in the Bosnian countryside are at a considerable disadvantage. Though access to primary education is generally high, school attendance is low amongst children from rural parts. Many Roma children grow up without an education because they are not registered with the authorities. Lack of education puts these children at serious risk. Of the one in twenty children aged five to 14 who are involved in child labour, it is those from rural areas that represent two thirds of this figure.
Our Work in Bosnia
The war was still in progress when we first began work in Bosnia in 1994, delivering emergency aid to families in Sarajevo who were caring for orphaned children. We provided youth clubs, therapy and counselling to help young people recover from the trauma of war. In the aftermath of the 2014 floods, we acted swiftly to offer displaced families somewhere to live and provide counselling and financial support to those most in need.
After the war, we opened two Children's Villages. Our Village in Sarajevo was built on the site of a residential district extensively damaged during the war. The Village opened with 16 family houses for up to 102 children, all of whom had been left alone by the conflict. An SOS Youth Home provides accommodation for young adults as they prepare to leave our care, while a sports ground offers children somewhere to unwind and get sporty. We provide vocational training to children from the Village and surrounding community at our SOS social centre. Our Playbus visits schools, hospitals, parks and orphanges, enabling us to reach thousands of disadvantaged children each month around Sarajevo.
Bosnia’s second Children’s Village opened in north-eastern Bosnia on a hill overlooking the town of Gračanica, a short drive from Tuzla, in 1998. Located several miles from the city centre, SOS Gracanica offers a loving home to many children who have lost their parents. The Village also has a Youth Home for children on the verge of independence.
Other SOS projects in Bosnia-Herzegovina include the rebuilding of two nurseries in Mostar which were destroyed in the war.
For more information about the work we do in Bosnia, see our page on Bosnian Orphans.
Life in SOS Children's Villages Bosnia-Herzegovina: Big brother, little brother
When you look at their interests, talents, friends and temperaments, you would think that Ismet and Hamza are not even related. Look deeper into their hearts and you will find what they share with their SOS siblings - their affection for their SOS mother and the same deep brotherly bond which grows stronger every day.
"Ismet and Hamza are very much in tune with each other," says SOS mother Isma. "I try hard to create such bonds among all my [SOS] children. I teach them that each of them will be the other's pillar. They have to and will support each other in life."
When Isma talks of her nine children, she can't stop smiling. "I'm happy when my children are happy and content with themselves. I couldn't be prouder."
A little brother who's a talented dancer
Six-year-old Ismet has been attending ballet school for over a year now and is happy to demonstrate the ballet steps that he has learned. As ballet is not such a popular choice for boys, he was the only boy in the group when he started but he soon discovered his talent.
"Each time I bring Ismet to a ballet lesson, his teacher tells me how exceptionally talented he is. He really enjoys every lesson," says Isma as Ismet does the splits in the living room. "Who knows... maybe he'll grow up to be the next Baryshnikov?!" "Barshy…who? How do you spell that?" immediately inquires the boy who will not start school for another year, but already knows all the letters.
A big brother who's a talented basketball player
Hamza is a promising basketball player, although he is unsure whether he will be a professional basketball player or whether he will just play the game as a hobby. The nine-year-old is training hard in the local basketball club and takes every opportunity to shoot a few balls on the village playground.
"Whenever I go outside I take a ball with me. Even when I'm on my way to school, if I meet some friends on the field, I quickly shoot a few three-pointers before I rush off to school," says Hamza. A third-grader in the nearby primary school, Hamza is often described as a wonderful student by his teacher. "Ah, I do sometimes get help from Tea," admits Hamza with a look of gratitude to his older SOS sister.
Regardless of what they do with their lives, one thing will always remain the same: Ismet and Hamza will always be the brothers of Tea, Mirso, Faris, Alma, Amra, Alen, Damir. They will always be Isma's sons and be each other's greatest support.
SOS Children's Villages Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Fax: +387/33/465 323