Lekenik is located 24km south-east of Zagreb, Croatia's capital city. The town itself is in a very small rural community of about 2,000 people and, like much of the country, continues to show the scars of a war that ended years ago.
The population are mainly ethnic Croatians, but there are significant Serbian, Bosnian, and Roma minority populations. Though the region is home to a lot of important industries, many remain unemployed and this will be a key challenge for the region in the future.
The impact of unemployment
Unemployment in the region stems largely from the Balkans War in the 1990s, which continues to impact on people's lives. Unemployment puts an enormous strain on families as they struggle to provide for their children's needs.
This has meant that many children are missing out on the psychological and emotional support that they need to thrive. The areas particularly high unemployment rate compared to elsewhere in Croatia, means that SOS Children's Villages' work here is particularly important.
Even though the government has made important reforms, most children who cannot stay with their parents end up in institutional care facilities. Though these services do their best, they cannot provide the level of care that children need during their formative years.
Those who do not receive this care run a high risk of ending up in poverty in their future and fail to achieve everything they are capable of. This means that the problem of poverty persists across generations and requires action to help children now.
How do we help children in Lekenik?
We opened our SOS Children's Village in Lekenik in 1993, and have worked continuously to provide comprehensive support for children and families. The work we do ensures every child gets the right start and the chance of a bright future.
Our SOS social centre offers workshops and courses for children in skills that are essential to their development and helps to take some of the strain off of struggling parents. It also provides a space for interaction and engagement, where children can build strong friendships with other children in the community.
The SOS nursery gives parents a safe place to leave children during the day whilst they go to work. We work with these parents to ensure that they remain an integral part of their children's development and play an active role in their successes.
SOS Children's Village offers loving homes
When children cannot live with their parents, they can find a loving home with one of 15 SOS families. These care for up to 98 children and they are encouraged to make friends with other local children to boost confidence and build social skills.
When they are old enough we support young people from SOS families to take their next steps into adulthood. They are able to stay in special houses and flats in nearby cities, and our qualified staff support them in handling the increased levels of responsibility that they start taking on.
Children of all ages find a new home in our Children's Village in Lekenik. We care for them when they have no-one and nothing. Will you support them as they grow, and sponsor a child today?