She is a beautiful 14 year old Roma girl who lives with her parents in Mostar, southern Bosnia and Herzegovina. At school she was small and was the victim of bullying. Today, thanks to Save the Children, she studies with a dedication that ensures her a future. She plans to go to university and become a pediatrician.
Elma started coming to the Drop-in centre back in 2011. At first, she was withdrawn and quiet. Since the very beginning of the Centre's work, Elma has been provided help with school work, especially for some of the subjects that she had most difficulty with. In addition, she had counselling with the Centre's staff, which was focused on building her self-confidence. The Drop-in Centre for Street Involved Children in Mostar is one of 6 such centres that Save the Children established, in cooperation with local NGOs and institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Drop-in Centres are safe havens for street involved and at risk children. These are places where a child can find safety, have a warm meal, take a bath and get his/her clothes cleaned up or even get new clothes when needed; places where they get to play and learn, get psycho-social support, help with accessing health care, help with school work or to enrol to school. When a child enters the Drop-in Centre, his or her needs are adequately assessed and an individual plan is developed to ensure that he or she gets all the needed support. A series of Minimum Standards are developed and adopted by all Drop-in Centres, which ensure that any child coming to any of the Drop-in Centres in the country is provided with the same set of quality services. „I still come to the Drop-in Centre. I like to talk to all of the people working there; I find it interesting and useful. At present, they mostly help me with English, because I have troubles with that subject. At the Drop-in Centre I have access to Internet, which I need for school. Teachers keep assigning us to search for stuff at home because they think that we all have computers, but I do not. It is hard for me to come out and say that, since everyone else has a computer at home. That is why I kept quiet about it. But I search for stuff here. And I would like to get one of my own one day - my dad promised,“ says Elma, with laughter.
“My girl-friend with whom I sit together and I are the best students in the class. The teacher has promised a reward for us – a day off from school whenever we choose!” says Elma. When asked what she would like to be different in her life, she tells us “I do not know what I would change. I would like to have things that other kids have. I would like to have a computer which I need to use a lot. I would like for my dad to find a job, and for all of us to be happy. We are happy even now, but we would be even happier then.“ As for the future, Elma sees herself as a Paediatrician. When we asked whether she wanted to continue studying after high school, Elma said: “I wish I could go to the University to study to become a Paediatrician, but that is the most expensive study. It is a 6-year long studies, while to become a nurse, it takes 4 years.” Her father Safet is sceptic about the possibility to fund her studies. “I wish I could send my child to school as much as she wants, but the situation now is so difficult, it is not easy to secure the money necessary to fund schooling. And now, she wants to go to the University, but I am not sure if that is going to be possible,” says Safet.
Save the Children has recently opened two new Drop-in Centres in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the support of Save the Children Italy. The new Centres in Bijeljina and Brcko District, add to the network of 4 Centres that the organization established earlier in Sarajevo, Tuzla, Mostar and Banja Luka. In 2014, the Centres serviced 842 street involved and at risk children and worked with 599 parents.