SOS Children in Croatia
Overview of Croatia
Croatia is part of the former Yugoslavia. An independent state since 1991, it was one of the most prosperous and well-developed of the Republics before the dissolution of Yugoslavia. However the Civil War which broke out in 1991 plunged the country into crisis.
There are still some 33,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Croatia, as well as 22,000 refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Landmines and weapons continue to endanger the population and present an obstacle for the safe return of refugees and IDPs, with around one million mines and unexploded ordnance strewn over nearly 11 per cent of the country's territory.
Our Work in Croatia
We opened our first Croatian SOS Children's Village in 1993 in Lekenik, a small rural community 15 miles southeast of Zagreb. Located on the outskirts of the town, next to a primary and a secondary school, the Village has 15 family houses providing a new home for up to 98 children. A community building and a leisure centre integrated in to the Village in 2002 offer different activities for the children from the SOS Children's Village Lekenik as well as for children from the local neighbourhood. Opened in 1996, an SOS Nursery with six classrooms and a playground is open to small children from both the Village and the surrounding community. Opened the same year, an SOS Youth Home for up to 22 older children was established in nearby Zagreb. Here, young people gradually start to learn how to lead independent lives whilst under the guidance of qualified youth workers.
SOS Children’s Village Ladimirevci opened in 1995. An ancient village in Eastern Croatia, Ladimirevci is about 12 miles from Osijek in a region of thick forest and rivers. It is an area that was extensively destroyed during the war and many of the children here are war orphans. The Village has 16 family houses which built in typical Slavonic style and home to over one hundred children. The children attend the local schools, including the new elementary school in Ladimirevci where a number of the classrooms and the sports hall were financed by SOS Children’s Villages. In 2000, an SOS Youth Home was set up in Osijek for up to 32 youths from the SOS Children's Village. As the SOS Youth Home in Osijek had already reached its maximum capacity one more house was purchased at the end of 2004 for the youths from SOS Children's Villages Ladimirevci.
Life in SOS Children's Village Croatia: Styling for the future
When Matea moved from SOS Children's Village Ladimirevci to the SOS Youth Home in the near-by town of Osijek, all she wanted was to finish school and get a job with a decent salary at a local hair salon. A year later, the once shy 16-year-old is confident that she can shape her future as she chooses!
When Matea was asked to participate in the annual inter-city contest for hairdressing students as the sole representative from the town of Osijek she did not hesitate to agree, but she did tremble with fear. Insecure about her talent, Matea registered last minute, after she had been persuaded to do so by her teacher and her youth home educator.
"At the time, I think they believed in me more than I myself did," Matea talks about her debut in a large contest. "When the day of the contest came, I was a nervous wreck. I was so convinced that I would be knocked out in the first round." The challenge was to style a woman's hair both for during the day and for an evening out.
The third-year student is doing her compulsory work experience at a local hair salon in Osijek. The owner, Ms Zorica, is very satisfied with Matea's work. "Like Matea, I am still excited that she came second place and has qualified for the tenth national hairstyling contest in Zagreb this April," says Zorica.
"Matea's success seems all the more important when you know that she grew up without her parents and had to work extra hard to prove her worth," adds Ms Zorica. "In the future, I just intend to take on young people from SOS Children's Village Ladimirevci and the SOS Youth Home in Osijek [for work experience at the salon]. Matea has opened the door for them."
Matea still has not disclosed what her hairstyle will be like at the national contest, but she has told us about her future wishes and plans. "I would, of course, like to continue to work as a hairstylist and learn everything I can from Ms Zorica. She has promised to let me in on the secrets of ethnic hairstyles, which are very challenging to do. I hope I can master these styles and maybe make them popular around the world one day," says Matea in conclusion.
SOS-Djecje selo Hrvatska
Zavrtnica 5/III 10000
Tel: +385/1/46 100 66, +385/1/46 100 67
Fax: +385/1/46 182 08