WORST CITY - Tuzla, Bosnia
Europe’s Only Salt Lake
Bosnia as a whole is far from a beautiful garden spot.
War torn for years, the
problems of gang violence, ethnic cleansing, drugs, organized crime, and
state sponsored corruption are all part of the landscape in most of it’s
Tuzla has all of those problems, in addition to the usual water and
electric rationing, and the city is also home to a chemical plant so the
groundwater and soil is terribly contaminated.
But Tuzla also has the
unfortunate distinction of having all of these wonderful attractions, with
the additional indignity of the fact that it was built on the site of former
Salt Mines that are now collapsing, so many buildings are now literally
sinking into the ground.
Tuzla, Bosnia - at least
you can get coca-cola in the town centre . . .
. . . and the cows get a square meal.
Help children in Bosnia with
Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina is still struggling to recover from three
years of bloody inter-ethnic war during 1992-95. Around 250,000 people died
in the conflict between Bosnian Muslims, Croats and Serbs - part of the
break-up of Yugoslavia.
War, poverty and the daily struggle for survival have deeply affected the
traditional extended family structure. Children and young people cope with
deeply traumatic experiences relating to the war and post war period. Family
violence is a problem. Bosnia and Herzegovina has become a regional centre
for trafficked women and girls.
The war was still in progress when the charity first began working there in
1994 with an emergency aid programme for families in Sarajevo who were
caring for orphaned children. Specialised treatment was also provided for a
number of deaf and dumb children, as well as children suffering from
diabetes. Youth clubs, which also offered therapy and counselling, were set
up to help young people, families and children cope with the traumas life in
the besieged city
After the war, work began on two SOS Children's communities. SOS Children
Sarajevo, built on a site provided by the city authorities in Mojmila, a
residential district which was extensively damaged during the war, took in
its first families in 1997. All of the children were war-affected with
parents killed or missing during the war. The village has fifteen family
houses, built in traditional Bosnian style and a youth house.
In 1999 the charity finished work on an SOS Social Centre close to the
Children’s Village. It includes a kindergarten for sixty children and a
computer centre to train young people in IT skills. English and German
language classes are provided, as well as handicrafts and visual arts
workshops. Around 800 children and young people are currently benefiting
from the facilities. There is also an adventure playground which provides
somewhere for children from the SOS Children's Village and the neighbourhood
to play in safety away from the busy city streets.
In autumn 2003 the popular Play-Mobil-Project, which has been running very
successfully in Albania and Romania, was introduced in Sarajevo with the aim
of helping to keep children off the streets. continued
Bosnia-Herzegovina’s second SOS Children’s community opened in north-eastern
Bosnia on a hill overlooking the town of Gracanica, about 35 km from Tuzla
in 1998. SOS Children Gracania has twelve family houses built in the
traditional style and a youth house for the children who have grown up in
the village and are now on the verge of independence.
Other SOS projects in Bosnia-Herzegovina include the rebuilding of two
kindergartens in Mostar which were destroyed in the war, one of which has
now been handed over to the city authorities to run, and a kindergarten in
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