Maris’ story

“I caught sight of many smiles on her face”

When home is not a safe place

Maris is a petite, quiet, and withdrawn seven-year-old girl from Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Home has not always felt safe to Maris. Her mother, Iva, went through a very difficult time with her husband, who has an addiction, and her older son, who is 20 and prone to violence. Iva is now separated from her husband, but she and Maris have been deeply affected by their experiences.

Iva said, "I'd been with my husband for many years, and I could never find a way out of that relationship. But when I had Maris, I had new hope and strength. I became a different woman when I gave birth to her because, at that moment, I knew that I didn't want her to go through the same things as me. I wanted to become a stronger version of myself – for her."

When home life is turbulent, it can lead to children growing up too early. They do their best to be well-behaved and to avoid being an extra burden in an already volatile situation.  

It's easy for children like Maris to forget they are just children, one who should have their own childlike worries rather than taking on adult concerns; a child who should be carefree and playful, free to grow and learn.

This summer, Maris had the opportunity to do just that. She was invited to Mission Without Borders's summer camp, where the atmosphere was very different from home. Here, there was abundant fun and food, Christian leaders creating a happy, peaceful environment, and many other children ready to be friends. It was also Maris's first time going to the seaside.

Matea, who works for Mission Without Borders, was Maris's group leader at summer camp. She said, "At summer camp, we're always careful when we have kids there for the first time. Before the camp, we get to know their background, skills, and situation at home. This is because we want to ensure that every child is well taken care of and gets exactly what they need.  

"Although we're always well prepared, each camp brings a surprise. Maris was our surprise this year. Her maturity surprised us. Seeing her at the camp – how brave and mature she is – but knowing that it all comes from her challenges at home was very sobering."  

At camp, Maris and the other children enjoyed lots of fun activities, sports, and crafts. They also took part in Bible lessons and discussion groups and played and swam at the seaside.

Mate said, "Summer camp brought many new things to Maris: most importantly, new friendships, where she was part of a group of children where she was very much accepted.  

"Maris is a girl who rarely smiles, but at summer camp, I caught sight of many smiles on her face, smiles that came straight from her heart."

When asked what her favorite thing about summer camp was, Maris said, "The bedrooms - because they are nice and clean – and our time at the beach, new friends, and food!"  

I caught sight of many smiles on her face.


A few months after summer camp, Maris was sadly placed in foster care, and her family was withdrawn from MWB's family sponsorship program since there were no longer any children at home.

Drazan, the family worker who supported the family, said, "Social services decided that it would be better for Maris to be placed in a foster family. 

"Although the family is no longer in the program, we are in contact with Maris and her foster family, and she's already been invited to all the gatherings for the children from the program, especially with her friends from summer camp."

Matea said, "I'm glad that at summer camp, we could be there for Maris at a difficult time in her life. Here, she had the chance to forget her troubles for a little while, hear about Jesus and all He's done for her, and have fun and interesting experiences. Summer camp is an excellent way to show children how much they are valued and loved. We hope that Maris always remembers - and takes with her - the joy and peace she found here."  


Children will get the opportunity to go to one of MWB’s Summer Camps

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