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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