Operation Christmas Love

"Getting enough money to buy food"

Bosnia-Herzegovina is one of the poorest countries in Europe. Wars, corruption, and economic turmoil have led to severe social and financial hardship. There are high levels of unemployment, with almost 19% of its citizens living below the poverty line.

The Zukics – Almir, 43, Sadeta, 38, and their six children aged one to 17 – live in one section of an old house in Bugojno, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Although Almir has a job in logging, his low wages mean the family lives in poverty. 

Sadeta is at home caring for the children, and in the summer months, she and the children pick flowers and plants in the forest to supplement their income. 

"When I saw the family's need and their circumstances, I knew right away that they needed to be part of our family sponsorship programme." 

Nermin works for Mission Without Borders (MWB), supporting impoverished families in Bugojno. He continued, "Although they live quite far away from all the other families and places where we serve, the sparkle in the children's eyes when they receive our support and when I spoke about the summer camps and other opportunities for them is a picture that will never fade away. Because of that sparkle, everything is worth doing."

The Zukics' poverty is most evident in their lack of opportunities. Living in such a remote location, the children must walk miles to a bus stop and then get a bus to school each day. They then come home to a place where there is nowhere to develop new skills, try new things, or nurture talents. For the Zukics, life is focused on simply getting enough money to buy food and other essentials. 

The winter season is particularly challenging as there are fewer work opportunities and, at the same time, firewood is needed to heat their home, which is very expensive. With all the burdens they face, celebrating Christmas is something that usually falls by the wayside, with a Christmas feast and presents well beyond the Zukics' reach. 

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That's where Operation Christmas Love comes in. Every Christmas season, MWB distributes boxes of essential food and hygiene items, chocolates and treats, and literature explaining the true meaning of Christmas, to families living in poverty in Eastern Europe. And this year, one Operation Christmas Love box traveled more than 120 km from the warehouse in Mostar to a remote and tiny community in the region of Bugojno, finding its way to the Zukic family.

Now, thanks to MWB, the Zukics can look forward to Christmas, knowing that there is plenty of food in the cupboard and all kinds of support they can rely on. 

"The Operation Christmas Love parcels – and everything that we give to this family – brings a lot of joy to them; joy, hope, and relief, I would say," Nermin shared.

Joy, hope, and relief


Eleven-year-old Elmedin Zukic said, "We love it when Nermin comes to visit us. He always makes us laugh, and he always brings us sweets."

His mother, Sadeta, said, "Knowing that my kids won't go to bed hungry and that they have clothes to wear brings a lot of relief to me as a mother. And I love that Nermin always has time to listen and to be present. That helps us a lot, that feeling when you know you're not alone." 

With your help, we can bring Operation Christmas Love to more families like the Zukics.

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42 000

Operation Christmas Love boxes are planned for distribution to families, individuals and the elderly across our six field countries, including 10 000 to those in war-torn Ukraine.

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Give hope and dignity.