Haris’s story from Bosnia: a happy childhood with his mum and sisters

Growing up with his older sisters to love and protect him, baby Haris is never likely to be short of playmates, cuddles or helpful advice. But without the courage and commitment of his mum, Esmeralda, this happy childhood would have all too easily been stolen from him.

Your support means Haris is growing up with his sisters to love and encourage him (picture by Chris Leslie)

After suffering years of domestic violence, Esmeralda fled to a women’s refuge, taking her children with her. With nowhere permanent to stay and nothing to live on, Esmeralda knew that Haris and his sisters were at risk of being taken from her and sent to grow up in Bjelave, the largest orphanage in Sarajevo. And because Esmeralda spent part of her childhood in a loveless children’s institution, she knew that this was something she could never let happen.

“I would never let my children go to an institution,” she told us. “I would rather die. Even if the staff are kind, even if everything is clean and the children are fed, you are on your own and there is no love there.” Your generosity means Hope and Homes for Children in Bosnia & Herzegovina have been able to help Esmeralda and her children find a safe place to live and support her to build a more secure future for her family.

Even though Haris’s mum admits she never has a moment to herself, her devotion to her children means Haris and his sisters are growing up happily together with the love of their mum, and they are thriving.

Our work in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The story of Hope and Homes for Children started in 1994 when a retired British UN Commander, Mark Cook, and his wife Caroline visited the Bjelave Children’s Institution in Sarajevo, Bosnia. There are currently around 2,000 children in orphanages throughout the country, half of whom are in specialised institutions for children with disabilities.

We completed the first orphanage closure in 2008, and currently have projects underway in three additional cantons: Sarajevo and Tuzla. In Bosnia we have successfully influenced the development of a range of alternative care services such as foster care, small group homes and young adult support programmes. We have worked closely with government and civil society in the creation of relevant policies, service standards and national action plans to underpin and consolidate reform of the child protection system.

Read more about our work in the Country at this link.

How can you help?

On average, we invest approximately £400 to help keep a family together when they are struggling with challenges that threaten to tear them apart. If you gave, alongside seven other supporters, £5 more each month, you could help keep another family together every year.

The money you donate will transform the lives of children around the world and bring us closer to a day where every child grows up in a loving, stable family.