Summer Camp Joy

Maris, who comes from a challenging family background, discovers a joy at Summer Camp that she's never experienced before.

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Maris is a seven-year-old girl from Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. She is petite, with a serious demeanour, often quiet and withdrawn. Unfortunately, home hasn't always been a safe haven for Maris. Her mother, Iva, faced significant challenges with her husband, who struggled with addiction, and her older son, who, at 20 years old, has shown violent tendencies. While Iva is now separated from her husband, the experiences they endured have deeply impacted both her and Maris.

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.”

Turbulent home environments often cause children to mature prematurely. They strive to behave well and avoid adding to the strain in an already volatile setting. For children like Maris, it's easy to forget they're just kids. They should have childlike worries, not adult concerns; they deserve to be carefree, playful, and free to grow and learn without undue burdens.

This summer, Maris had the opportunity to do just that. She was invited along to Mission Without Borders’s summer camp, where the atmosphere was very different from home. Here, there was fun and food in abundance, Christian leaders creating a happy, peaceful environment, and lots of 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 who are there for the first time. Before the camp, we get to know their background, their skills, their situation at home. This is because we want to make sure that every child is really well taken care of and that every child gets exactly what they need. 

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“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 brought us so much joy.”

At camp, Maris and the other children enjoyed lots of fun activities, sports and crafts; took part in Bible lessons and discussion groups; and enjoyed playing and swimming 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 favourite 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!"

In the end, a few months after summer camp, Maris was placed in foster care and her family was withdrawn from MWB’s family sponsorship programme as there were no longer any children in the home.  Drazan, the coordinator 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 programme, 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 programme, especially with her friends from summer camp.”


Matea said, “I'm glad that at summer camp, we were able to 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. Summer camp is a really powerful way to communicate to children how valuable and loved they are. We pray and hope that Maris always remembers the joy and peace she found here because of Jesus."

There are more children like Maris who have Summer Camp as an escape from lifes troubles and get the opportunity to have fun with other children but most importantly hear about Jesus. Donate today to help more children like Maris experience fun and joy at our Summer Camps!




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