Keeping families together: Alma’s story

Alma is a happy, confident little girl who’s interested in everything and everyone – and very keen on colouring.

The house she shares with her mother and her older brother, Selim, and sister, Samra, is basic but warm, well-kept and welcoming. Alma’s mother, Mensura, is a strong woman and a loving mother: she has had to be.

For years Mensura struggled to care for her children, despite the difficult relationship with their father who suffered from alcohol addiction and was unable to provide for his family. When he died suddenly, Mensura and her three children were left, living in a dilapidated house with no running water or electricity. Mensura felt unable to cope and Alma and her siblings were at risk of being put into an orphanage.
Local social workers helped the family to find a council house and then referred them to our ACTIVE Family Support programme – a model developed by Hope and Homes for Children to strengthen families at risk of separation.

ACTIVE Family Support enables targeted support in five integrated areas, relevant to child wellbeing. These include living conditions, family and social relationships, education, physical and mental health and household economy. The key to ACTIVE Family Support is that each intervention builds on a family’s existing individual strengths, addresses their particular needs and circumstances and empowers children and families to contribute to their own success.

The model also allows for clusters of needs at a community level, which might lead to the institutionalisation of children, to be identified and documented and then addressed by developing targeted services, accessible to the whole community. The nature of these services varies from one community to another, ranging from emergency support for families in crisis, Mother and Baby services where the most vulnerable young families can be supported or Emergency Reception Centres and/or Foster Care services where children who are at risk of neglect or abuse can be placed on a short-term basis.

Using the ACTIVE Family Support model, our team in Bosnia and Herzegovina were able to offer Mensura a range of practical, financial and emotional support to help her cope with the crisis and keep her family together.

Today, Alma and her family are doing well. Their new home is in a rural village, some distance from the nearest town, but we have helped to ensure that Selim can afford the bus fare into town, to continue his high school education. Samra goes to school nearby and Alma, who is not yet five, stays at home with her Mum.

Mensura is very proud of her children who seem happy, healthy and well-loved. She does all she can to make sure they have what they need – taking seasonal agricultural jobs when she can. With the support of Hope and Homes for Children in Bosnia and Herzegovina and our partners in the local social services department, she is confident that she can keep her family together and hopeful that better times lie ahead.