About Our Kids Foundation
Our Kids Foundation is a UK registered charity that designs, initiates, and funds long term strategic projects to improve the lives and future prospects of children and young adults in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
We work within the themes of health, poverty, education and employment. Often, but not exclusively, the beneficiaries of our projects are children living in institutional care and those with disabilities.
Our strategic approach achieves long term sustainable improvements for the children and young people. It also creates jobs and contributes to the wider post-war recovery process within Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Why Bosnia and Herzegovina
Life in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina is not easy, with fragmented communities and uneasy government operating within an economically challenged environment. There is currently more than 40% unemployment and as many as 50% of people living below the poverty line.
Many families’ lives reflect this fragmentation and the battle with poverty. Support for these families is thin on the ground. For some, institutional care for their children becomes the only option for survival, especially for disabled children. Of the 4,000 children estimated to be in care in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as many as 40% are thought to be learning disabled.
Life is hard enough for all young people on leaving care at the age of 18 years, but those with special needs can only look forward to a life in large asylum-like institutions. Institutions are not the best places for anyone to be! We aim to develop and promote ways of working for children in care and their families that are different to current institutional practices.
Our Kids Foundation was registered as a charity in 2010.
Since its inception Our Kids Foundation has raised about £430,000 for the children of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Our Kids Foundation is governed and managed by a Board of volunteer trustees who take no payment for their time.
Silva Memic (Chairman) brings more than 15 years experience in management, leadership, operations, human resources and finance in the local government sector with a background in social inclusion, service development and business transformation. Silva started volunteering for Our Kids in 2011 and was elected Chairman of the Board in 2013. As well as participating in fundraising for the charity she is responsible for providing leadership for the board of trustees in their role of setting the strategy and policy of the organisation, planning the annual cycle of board meetings and setting the agendas, chairing and facilitating the board meetings, giving directions to board policy making, monitoring that decisions taken at board meetings are implemented, representing the Foundation at events, meetings and functions.
Davorka Kulas (Treasurer) has worked in finance and accounts management for over 30 years. Originally from Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, she moved to the UK with her family in 1992. After working for a number of successful companies in a range of sectors, Davorka set up her own financial management and accounting business. She has extensive experience of managing all financial aspects of a company. Davorka is one of the founding members of Our Kids Foundation. After visiting the Egipatsko Selo orphanage in Mostar, she rallied a diverse group of individuals in London and spearheaded the establishment, registration and operation of the Foundation. Ever since, she has been heavily involved in all aspects of the charity, organising fundraising parties, helping to run school trips, establishing contacts and applying for funding. Davorka is also the key contact for all major stakeholders in both Bosnia-Herzegovina and the UK, and her extensive knowledge of the local government’s regulations and policies are invaluable for the Foundation’s work. Currently, Davorka is focused on Our Kids’ biggest project to date, the establishment of an institution that will serve as a training centre for individuals who leave the orphanage once they reach the age of 18.
Lana Kulas has worked as a secondary school teacher for nearly ten years. She has worked in a number of comprehensive schools in London and was the Assistant Principal and Head of Sixth Form at Chelsea Academy. Currently, she is teaching in Doha, Qatar. Originally from Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Lana moved to the UK in 1992. She was one of the founding members of Our Kids Foundation. She set up the annual school trip to Egipatsko Selo orphanage and has taken over 100 students from the UK to the orphanage so far. She has extensive experience of organising volunteer trips and working with young people to develop their social and teamwork skills, as well as their leadership potential and awareness of the wider world. Lana has also been involved in organising the fundraising parties for Our Kids. Currently, she is focusing her fundraising efforts in Qatar.
Sacira Coric is a Senior Global Project Finance Executive. She has been advising equity investors and lenders on infrastructure development and major PPP projects in excess of £500 million, for more than 15 years. Sacira started volunteering for Our Kids in 2012 and has focused her efforts on fund raising activities in London. She is responsible for organising annual fund raising concerts with award winning artists and promoting the traditional music from the Balkans. Sacira has strong financial, project management and marketing skills and is actively involved in promoting and overseeing several of the Foundation’s existing projects.
Freya Nowell is an International Relations graduate with two years’ experience of education project and volunteer management in both the Higher Education and charity sectors. She has worked for a number of UK-based and international NGOs and education institutions, with a focus on addressing educational inequality through furthering the social, educational and career opportunities of young people. She has volunteered with Our Kids Foundation since 2009 and joined the Board in 2014. She co-founded the Mostar Summer Youth Program in 2014 and is currently focusing on developing the local partner network of the Program.
Russ has worked in the software industry for 25 years. In 2004 he co-founded a software company based in Boston, USA. He is also the founder of Northcape Software, a social enterprise which employs website developers in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with all profits used to support social projects in the local community. Northcape also runs an academy providing free courses to help young adults and long-term unemployed in Bosnia and Herzegovina to begin a career in the tech sector. Russ also spent 4 years as a foster carer in the UK, and has been a teacher of business and economics at the Mostar Summer Youth Program since 2014.