Stories of Change

Sladjana and her family.

A business boost in Bosnia

Sladjana Latinovic, 40, wants to have a cheesemaking business. 

She lives with her family in rural, mountainous western Bosnia. Families in her community face deep poverty and few job opportunities, and they have few social services to help them. It’s a combination that can often feel hopeless. 

Sladjana’s family has had an especially tough time the last couple of years. One of their daughters had a difficult surgery in 2018, and her husband was severely injured last year in an accident in the woods while he was gathering firewood. Thankfully, his recovery is going well. But it will be a long road before he can do physical labor. And, of course, the Covid-19 pandemic made things harder. The bleak economic landscape somehow got worse because of lockdowns. 

Through it all, though, has been the goal of a cheesemaking business. Families in the area generally rely on agriculture and livestock to make a living, and the Latinovics are no exception. Their dream was to produce a well-known local type of sheep cheese called Petrovacki sirac. After years of sacrifice and savings, they bought some sheep of their own. But they didn’t have enough resources to manage the entire production process themselves. That took a big chunk out of their income.

This year, the family signed up for a CWS livestock program that helps families start or expand sheep businesses. It’s supported by Latter-day Saint Charities and implemented through our trusted partner in western Bosnia. Sladjana received 10 sheep through the program as well as help to improve the barns on their property where the sheep would live. She also received training about innovative sheep breeding techniques. 

Through the program, Sladjana now has the optimal number of sheep for her cheesemaking business to be competitive in the local market. Working with her family, she can now manage the entire cheesemaking process, improving her livelihood and her children’s futures at the same time. “The life of our family is changing radically, and it is becoming easier, because we now have hope for the future,” she says. “We will try to expand our family business, buy more sheep and be competitive in the local cheese market. And why not dream some even bigger dreams? Thank you from the bottom of my heart.” 

Sladjana’s neighbor, Zdravka Culibrk, also participated in the CWS program. She also makes Petrovacki sirac cheese. Like Sladjana, she received 10 sheep plus training on sheep breeding. “From today, I can count on starting to improve the production of cheese, but also meat,” she says. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am happy to be able to continue the work I have been doing my whole life.”