Stories of Change

Bosko at his high school graduation.

Bosko’s journey to university in Belgrade

We got to know Bosko when he was 10. As a typical street-involved child in Belgrade, Serbia, he spent most of his time at intersections, begging or selling small items like paper tissues. Although he was formally enrolled in school, he attended it rarely.

It took a year for the outreach team from CWS-supported drop-in shelters to motivate him to come to the shelter. CWS supports two shelters in Belgrade where street-involved children can get a hot meal, take a shower, pick out new clothes, read, study and relax. Bosko was neglected and didn’t have basic hygiene habits. He was distrustful towards other people, insecure and frightened. Program staff coordinated with his school and Center for Social Welfare and together they concluded it would be best for him to visit the shelter regularly. This daily contact allows professionals working in the shelter to help him adopt good models of behavior and develop practices that help him understand the importance of education and attend school regularly.

Very soon the staff noticed the progress he was making – socializing with other kids, participating in almost all activities organized in the shelter, and also becoming a positive role model for other children. He took part in various activities such as choir, English language classes, football and programming video games and animations.

When he was 14, Bosko was offered a full scholarship for a private high school specializing in IT. The school recognized his potential during workshops they organized for some kids from the shelter and decided to give him that opportunity. This was not only a big step for Bosko, but also for his family and community. He continued visiting the shelter from time to time even after he officially aged out from the program. The staff and children, who look up to him as a role model, were always happy to see him. Bosko always praised the support he received in the shelters, noting that his involvement with the shelter helped him to realize the importance of education, become aware of his own potential and enroll into high school, where he made a lot of new friends.

Because of his dedication and hard work, the school offered him the chance to continue with his education in their IT College and awarded him with another full scholarship. This amazing success represents Bosko breaking the vicious circle of generational poverty among Belgrade’s Roma families, like Bosko’s, especially when you consider that only 1% of Serbia’s Roma population enrolls in university.

“I celebrate the day that I met the Drop-in Shelter outreach team on the streets of Belgrade because the shelter helped me realize my own potential and enroll in high school,” Bosko says.