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 that 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 need of the family 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 families living in poverty 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 clearest in the lack of opportunities they have. Living in such a remote location, the children have to walk miles to a bus stop and then get a bus to go 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 necessarily focused on simply getting enough money together to buy food and other essentials.
The winter season is particularly challenging as there are less opportunities for work and at the same time, firewood is needed to heat their home, something that’s very expensive. With all the burdens they face, celebrating Christmas is something that usually falls by the wayside, with a Christmas feast and a pile of presents well beyond the Zukics’ reach.
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 travelled 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.
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