SOS Children's Villages has been working in Serbia since the 1970s (when the country was still part of the former Yugoslavia). Our work began near the northern town of Novi Sad, and in 2003 the organisation began working in central Serbia, near Kraljevo.
A region recovering from the war
On holiday (photo: SOS archives)
Children's Village Kraljevo is located in the suburban community of Beranovac on the outskirts of the Middle Serbian town of Kraljevo. Kraljevo has about 70,000 inhabitants and is situated at a distance of approximately 170 km south of Belgrade. The village is located in a residential area and is very involved in the life of the neighbouring community. The children attend the nearby schools, and organised activities are well attended by the local children.
The people in this region have traditionally lived off farming and heavy industry. The area is hoping to attract tourists to enjoy its natural beauty, its many spas and its cultural offerings. However, for the time being, it is still recovering from the armed conflict and political instability of the 1990s. There are numerous vulnerable children in the surrounding areas: many have lost parental care due to poverty. Others were internally displaced as a result of the war. There are also many refugees in the area - it is estimated that around 18,000 refugees from Kosovo have settled in the area. The largest minority are Roma, who often face social and economic discrimination.
Kraljevo was affected by an earthquake in 2010. It was the strongest one to hit Serbia in three decades. It caused widespread destruction and made around 1,500 houses uninhabitable. The health care centre and some schools had to be shut, and could only be opened after they were rebuilt.
Providing a loving home for children without parental care
When SOS Children's Villages started working in Kraljevo, there was no other organisation caring for children without parental care in the area. In the years since, there has actually been an increase in the number of children who have lost parental care. Furthermore, both national and international organisations have started working in the area offering psycho-social support to internally displaced people and refugees. The SOS mothers can provide long-term care for the children; thus giving them the best possible start in life.
What we do in Kraljevo
Having fun in the sun (photo: Z. Popović)
The SOS Children's Village Kraljevo comprises fourteen SOS families who can care for up to 98 children. The children attend the local primary school, which is only a few hundred metres away, and the local secondary schools in town. As children grow older, they can move into special homes where they are given professional support while they attend further education or start a vocational training course. The young people learn to shoulder responsibility and increasingly make their own decisions.
SOS Children's Villages responded quickly to the needs of the local population after the 2010 earthquake. It provided aid and accommodation for the many families who had lost their homes. The primary school in Vuk Karadzic suffered substantial damage: one wing of the main building was so badly damaged it had to be closed. With the help of funds from SOS Children's Villages, the rebuilding was completed and within a year, in October 2011, children between the ages of six and 14 were able to return to their school.