Pristina is the capital of Kosovo and has an estimated 199,000 inhabitants, making it the largest city in the country. Despite being better off than many other areas, unemployment remains high, especially among ethnic minorities. SOS Children have been working in Kosovo since 2000.
A difficult place to be a child
Vulnerable families, many of whom are from the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian ethnic minorities, live in poor housing and have no stable employment. Adults and children often have no choice but to search through rubbish, looking for food to eat or things to sell. The problems facing these families are exacerbated by the lack of identification papers; many are not officially registered with the authorities and therefore have no access to health care, education or social support. Children are at risk of being exploited.
Our work in Pristina
SOS Children recognised the need to support these families as well as abandoned and orphaned children and, in 2000, following negotiations with the interim government, plans were made to build an SOS Social Centre in Pristina. The Social Centre was to include an SOS Nursery and playground, and was designed to be a 'transit home' for children before they were adopted.
Because of the level of need, two houses in Pristina were rented while the Social Centre was under construction. By the end of 2002 these houses were full and the whole project was enlarged to cope with the large number of oprhaned and abandoned children, including children with special needs.
In 2004, with the support and agreement of the interim government and the local authorities, three family houses were built for the orphaned and abandoned children who were not being adopted.
In 2007, a Family Strengthening Programme was established to help some of the most vulnerable families in Pristina stay together. We work with local agenices, ensuring that children have access to essential educational, health and nutritional services. We help families improve their housing conditions and provide parents with legal advice, counselling and psychological support.
If children can no longer live with their families, they can find a loving home in one of the five SOS families that make up the Children's Village in Pristina. Every child has a "Child Development Plan" designed to support their specific needs.
The SOS Nursery has grown and now has five classes for 125 children, including children from the local community. As the children get older, they attend the local school together.
Young people who are ready to leave their SOS family and become more independent can move into shared accomodation while our programmes help them transition into adulthood by teaching them about the importance of shouldering responsibilty and making their own decisions.
We are committed to helping struggling families in Pristina. We want to make sure that every child has a loving home and the chance to experience a childhood.