The following article was written by Rasna. She first visited Our Kids Foundation’s projects in Mostar on a school trip a few years ago. Recently she returned with her mother Simi. Rasna was kind enough to write this article for us, describing her experience.
‘Nobody stays in Mostar for 7 days’. ‘Why are you here for so long?’ asked the receptionist at our hotel. I pointed to my Naša Djeca t-shirt and told him about the cause that is so close to my heart and also added, much to his surprise, that this was my third trip to Mostar.
So what draws me to this beautiful place? To put it plainly, the people. They are so warm, welcoming and always full of life. The children in particular are special, each one possessing their own unique personalities. I always end up having a favourite, which I know isn’t necessarily right, but I just can’t help being drawn to some of them! Each day was different, as we completed a variety of activities, which were all superbly organised by the wonderful Belma and I soon realised after spending a few hours with them, that each afternoon was never long enough. My favourite activity was when were divided into two groups competing against one another, to see who could get the most points. The most heart warming part about this was hearing the children screech with laughter each time someone in the team was successful, quite simply it was the sound of pure, unrestrained joy.
I was also lucky enough to meet the lovely women at the girls’ house, who I spent most of my mornings with. We were thoroughly spoilt and so well looked after. They treated us to coffee and delicious, traditional Bosnian sweets. The language barrier was also never an issue, due to the fact that we had our own personal translator, the lovely Amir, who also took such good care of us, always taking care to ensure that we had a taxi back to our hotel.
In addition, we visited the halfway house, a project which I saw when I came, with my school, two years ago. From its foundations, it has progressed into an amazing home for young men, where they are taught basic life skills that will aid them for their future. As before, we were treated so well, with the boys offering us tea, coffee and despite the fact that we said no, even some of their delicious homemade cherry juice. We were utterly overwhelmed by their kindness and I hope to spend more time with them next year.
To say I was sad when we left is an understatement. It always takes me a few days to adjust back to life at home, but I can confidently say that Mostar is a very special place for me and I will definitely be back next year. In the words of Aida, Naša Djeca’s project manager, ‘Rasna is Mostar’.