Fundraising Concert with Amira Medunjanin

Dear friends, a big thank you to all of you who joined us at our fundraising concert with Amira on the 10th of June.  We would also like to say thank you to so many of you who donated online but could not make it on the night.  It was a lovely gathering of friends in support of a great cause.  

We are so proud to have these amazing musicians and great humanitarians Amira Medunjanin, Ante Gelo and Zvonimir Sestak supporting our work and raising the profile of Our Kids.

We raised £7226.60 which will go directly to support our existing projects in Mostar.

We are so inspired by your generosity, willingness to help and ongoing support. Special thanks to all the volunteers who helped us run the concert smoothly. Thank you to Magaza Balkan Food shop for your generous donations.

Please do stay in touch and we will keep you up to date with the progress we are making this year.

If you missed the concert and still wish to donate, you can do so here: https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/ourkids/amira

Laptop Donation from HERO World Support

Laptop donation for the after school club at the children's home in Mostar...

Earlier this year we were contacted by Alex and Brian from HERO (Humanitarians for Education and Recreation Outreach). They asked if they could make a donation to support our work and agreed to donate laptops for use by the children at the after school club at Egipatsko Selo children's home.

We met them in October and as promised, they purchased 6 brand new laptops. They also visited the orphanage to see the after school club in action.

Computing resources like this are vital for the children's education and homework, and preparing them for employment when they leave at the age of 18. The home doesn't have equipment like this so the kids get little opportunity to use modern technology. This will be an amazing boost for them. Of course, they can use the equipment for fun stuff too - and they're already enjoying watching movies and listening to music.

Thanks Alex, Brian and everyone who supports HERO. To find out more about their project, click here: http://www.heroworldsupport.org/projects/

And for more photos and a write-up about how the kids are using the new laptops, check out this blog post from our volunteer Asia: borderlessasia.wordpress.com

Halfway House Open Day

Our Kids Foundation's new Halfway House began operations earlier this year and recently ran an open day event to help raise awareness and show the local community what we do.

The house is located in Vrapcici, just outside Mostar, and provides temporary accommodation and support for young adults leaving the state care system.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, when children reach the age of 18 they must leave state care, but often they have no family or other support network. They struggle to make the transition to independent living, and problems experienced during this critical period can have a long lasting impact on their lives.

A little support during this vulnerable time can make a huge difference. Young adults at the Halfway House are provided with a safe place to live as well as help with finding and keeping a job or enrolment in further education. When they are ready to move on, we help them to find their own accommodation and establish an independent life with a firm foundation.

The project began operations in May this year and we now have 7 young people in the program. In December the house ran an open day for the local community, to give people a chance to learn about the project's goals and how we work The event was well attended by neighbours, media and local politicians as well as our existing supporters and volunteers.

Well done to the team and residents!

Fire, Theft and Flood at the Children's Home, Mostar.

Three heartbreaking stories from the orphanage in Mostar - but thanks to our wonderful project teams, volunteers and supporters, all challenges can be overcome.

Child welfare in Bosnia and Herzegovina is severely under funded, making it difficult to maintain good living standards for the children even at the best of times.

When disaster strikes, the system is often unable to respond. When it strikes three times in quick succession, it can lead to a desperate situation, and this is exactly what was experienced this year by the children living in the Egipatsko Selo children's home, Mostar.

The first disaster struck a few months ago with a major fire in one of the dormitories. Fortunately no-one was hurt, but it destroyed one of the living areas. The government had no funds to repair the building and its future was uncertain.

The second problem was the badly maintained roof in the area of the orphanage where our Naša Djeca project team run all the children's workshops and the after school club. During even light summer rains it was letting in water so the club, which means so much to the kids, was regularly cancelled. We were extremely worried about how the building would fare during the heavier rains of winter.

The third issue was, unbelievably, a break-in and theft at the club house. Stealing from orphans is outrageous and such a saddening thing to experience. The thieves broke through the entrance, wrecked most of the rooms and made off with a TV, some bicycles and all the radiators - presumably for the scrap metal value.

In spite of all these setbacks, the amazingly dedicated team in Mostar refused to lose heart and set about raising the funds necessary to fix everything. Our supporters in the UK ran a special appeal, as did our partner organisations. The team in Mostar did a fantastic job rounding up local support too.

Thanks to the hard work and generosity of all involved, our employees, volunteers and donors, we are delighted to report that repairs are progressing really well. We'll keep you posted.

New Windows in the Fire Damaged Dormitory

New Roof and Security for the Club House

"Thank you"

Dance and Culture Concert in Mostar

For the fourth year in a row, the children, employees and volunteers of our Naša Djeca project in Mostar participated in a benefit concert of dance, music and culture. The event was organised jointly with other organisations in Mostar and around Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The event raised over KM2500 (£1000) for the project but more importantly it is a wonderful opportunity for the children to express themselves and raise awareness within the community, presenting the work of Naša Djeca and other youth groups in a very positive way.

Students from Heathland School Visit Mostar

This week at our Naša Djeca and Kuća na Pola Puta projects was full of laughter, fun trips and a lot of love.

The weather was perfect this weekend for outside games at the Kids Club. Our friends from the Heathland School UK were present to add to the fun. After a night BBQ at the halfway house, everyone took part in fun games like Jenga.

What are movie essentials? Popcorn and drinks! All of our kids were "movie ready" to watch Svemirska Avantura 2 which is an animated film about dogs in space.

Did someone say strike? Our kids had a blast bowling at Mepas Mall.

We celebrated a birthday on Thursday as one of our children from the Kids Club turned 14 years old. Happy Birthday Almedin!

 

 

Teaching Children's Rights, Bowling Competition and Art Homework

Another update from the children and young people we work with in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Aida and Đana took part in a bowling in a competition in Sarajevo for people with special needs. Their team was placed third in the competition. Way to go girls!

Nermina was so proud of herself after working on writing and addition in the Kids Club.

Tayra was one of the kids involved in the weekend workshop discussing the rights of children. The activity included the kids choosing the rights that they believed in the most and then placing a handprint with the color they identified that right with. The finished product hangs in the kids club so the kids can be reminded all year long of their different rights.

Elvedin is an artist and wanted to share his work from school with everyone at the Kids Club.

Math is a group effort at the Kids Club.

Homework Help for Children in State Care

Egipatsko Selo orphanage, Mostar, and the good work of our Naša Djeca project team. During the school term we run an after school "Kids Club" to help the children with their homework.

Ilvanna is working on English homework. Her confidence in reading is improving by the week as she practices during homework help at the Kids Club.

Which way is north? The kids had a homework assignment to create a compass with tools they could find around the house. Belma led this activity flawlessly and the kids had fun playing with magnets, cork and a needle.

Ajdina is crazy about the alphabet. She was very proud of her work while learning new vocabulary words in English.

Mirza is working on some history homework in the Kids Club.

How does one get better at multiplication? With practice on the big black board!

Autumn at the Egipatsko Selo Orphanage

At weekends our employees and volunteers spend time with the kids from the Egipatsko Selo orphanage, combining learning and social skills with fun activities.

Last weekends workshop was on Autumn and the changing of the seasons. September 22 was the first day of fall. The kids were able to go on a nature hike with volunteers and staff, to see what kind of leaves they would find around the orphanage in Mostar.

Autumn has just started so they still found green leaves on the trees and on the ground. They were more excited to see the colourful leaves.

The kids then traced and painted the leaves. Most kids chose to paint their leaves green but were sure to put a touch of brown or yellow on them.

UK Students visit Halfway House

Some of the children from the Egipatsko Selo orphanage, and Students from the Chelsea Academy and Heathland School in London visited our newest project today, the Halfway House (Kuca na Pola Puta) just outside Mostar.

The house provides temporary accommodation, training and support for young adults leaving the state institutions and children's homes. It is a vital link between state care and independent living, and a little support at this critical time can have a hugely positive impact on their lives.

Click here for the full photo gallery

They started the day by working in groups to come up with ideas for sustainable funding of the project. Each group then presented their work. The students had a lot of creative ideas for making the most of the facilities available at the house.

The house and grounds are still quite bare and we want to make it a more homely and welcoming environment for the residents. So the students spent the afternoon planting flower beds and creating a herb garden.

It was hard work as the ground has not been cultivated since the property was first built, so they had to remove a lot of turf and stones before planting.

In the afternoon they spent time relaxing and playing games together. The Halfway House team also put on a wonderful spread of food while the residents fired up the grill.

The visit was funded by the students who each raised at least £1000 to pay for their flights and all the materials used during the day. Everyone at Our Kids Foundation would like to say a big Thank You to them for their efforts.