SOS mother kissing girl:
The war in Bosnia between 1992 and 1995 was devastating to the country and its children. This report shows how SOS Childrens Villages got involved in the country and how SOS responded to an emergency situation before making a long term commitment:
Many children lost their parents during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina between 1991 and 1995. The war was still in progress when SOS-Kinderdorf International made contact with the authorities at the beginning of 1994. Together they worked out the following plan of action: as a first measure of aid over 200 Bosnian foster families, who had agreed to take in more than 270 orphans, were to receive financial support. A counselling centre for families and a club were set up in Sarajevo. The aim of the club was to help children and youths overcome the traumas they had experienced in the war by putting on plays, playing music, painting, playing games and learning foreign languages. Unfortunately, the turmoil of the war meant that both these facilities had to be closed in 1995.
After the war, SOS Children's Villages decided to help the people by setting up permanent facilities. The cornerstone was laid for an SOS Children's Village in the capital, Sarajevo, in September 1996. The same was done for the second Bosnian SOS Children's Village in Gracanica, near Tusla one month later. Both SOS Children's Villages were completed by the end of February 1998 and the first children were shortly able to move into their new homes. The city of Mostar had been particularly heavily bombed and so SOS-Kinderdorf International decided to renovate two kindergartens that had been hit. One of them was in the Bosnian and the other in the Croatian part of the city. Shortly after, it was possible to hand the Croatian kindergarten over to the authorities.
A new SOS Social Centre was opened in Sarajevo in December 1999. Amongst other things it houses a kindergarten and a youth centre, which is in part, a continuation of the club that was set up during the war. A pedagogical excellent project is the SOS Kindergarten in Gorazde, which was built in 2001. In 2002 Youth Facilities were established in Tusla and Sarajevo for the SOS Children's Villages in Sarajevo and Gracanica. Some years later both SOS Youth Facilities were enlarged.
In autumn 2003 the popular Play-Mobile-Project was introduced in Sarajevo (it has already been in operation very successfully in Romania) with the aim of helping to keep the children off the streets. The child day care centre in the SOS Social Centre Sarajevo has initiated a programme which gives children from poor families the opportunity of a pre-school education in the afternoon. In 2005 such programmes started also in the SOS child day care centre Gorazde and Mostar.
In 2005 SOS Childrens Villages Bosnia started to operate a Family Strengthening Programme om Gorazde, which enables children who are at risk of losing the care of their family to grow within a caring family environment. To achieve this, SOS Childrens Villages Bosnia works directly with families and communities to empower them to effectively protect and care for their children, in cooperation with local authorities and other service providers.
At present there are two SOS Children's Villages in Bosnia-Herzegovina, two SOS Youth Facilities and five SOS Social Centres.