“My parents didn't send me to school because they thought I didn't need it. I thought the same about my children, but that opinion changed,” says Marina's mother. Today, she strives to provide the best possible conditions for their education.
Thirteen-year-old Marina comes daily Drop-in Centre for Street Involved Children in Niksic. Due to her earlier health issues and waiting for her younger sister, she is behind her generation at school and is now in 3rd grade. Late enrolment influenced her fitting in in the school environment, but with the great support and work of Drop-in Centre staff, this problem was gradually resolved.
“It's important for my children to go to school. Today you have nothing without school. I don't want them to struggle through life like I do. Thanks to the Centre and the school, Marina knows how to read, write and count. That's why now when something needs to be written or read, she does it for me. Marina is a smart girl, but she needs help to get through school, find a job and have a better life,” says Marina's mother.
Marina and her family are beneficiaries of the Centre's services. The girl has a great desire for education, which is her basic right. However, this desire / right could not be easily realized due to the difficult living conditions of her family. The Drop-in has certainly played a big role by donating the necessary school materials, books, along with a great effort, work and dedication of a professional team in order to provide the girl with adequate educational content. According to Centre’s records, Marina had and still has the highest number of hours in the Centre. She is constantly working on her socialization, development of independence and responsibility.
The Centre’ organizes a number of workshops aimed at encouraging the development of the child in line with hers or his age, as well as enhancing the capacity of parents to support their children to stay in the education system for as long as possible.
"Over a period of one year, Marina had individual lessons in various subjects aimed at literacy and better school achievements. Given that she is older than her classmates, Marina learns much faster than them. She is very interested in educational content, and her progress is already reflected in her academic success,” explains Nadja Boskovic, one of the Centre’s team members.
“I go to school and the Centre every day. I participate in all the activities, and most of all I love to study. I want to be a good student and finish school,” adamant is Marina.
There is only one thing to say for Marina - she has a great desire and motive to succeed. She is persistent in achieving her goals, well-behaved and have trust Drop-in Centre staff, and this is certainly a great strength in the work of the expert team with her.
The Centre aims to raise awareness among parents and children of the importance of education through daily activities, but also to make them aware of the negative effects of their exclusion form education. Every last child has the right to education, and Centre strive to help them to the fullest extent possible.
Save the Children in North-West Balkans supports the work of seven drop-in centres in Podgorica and Niksic in Montenegro and Banjaluka, Bihac, Bijeljina, Brcko and Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Together, these seven centres have over 1000 regular beneficiaries, along with as many as 2000 children that occasionally use some of the services during the year.
In Save the Children supported drop-in centres, street involved and at risk children are provided with a full range of services, from shelter to legal assistance, psychological counselling to life-skills and vocational training, access to medical care and welfare benefits, school inclusion and reintegration. In order to further empower these children and their families, Save the Children developed and started piloting the Family Strengthening Program in all its centres which aims to prevent family separation and boost parentings skills.
Text and photo: Ivana Vuckovic, social worker at the Drop-in Centre for Street Involved Children in Niksic
* Names have been changed to protect identity.