In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Center For Educational Initiatives Step By Step will be closely collaborating with Association "Tuzlanska Amica" in the ARISE project. "Tuzlanska Amica" Association is a non-governmental, non-profit organization, which started operating in 1992 and was officially registered with Tuzla Canton in 1996. In 2004 it was registered with the Ministry of Justice of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Its governing bodies are the Assembly of the Association and the Board of Directors.
The activities of "Tuzlanska Amica" have changed throughout the years, but they have always been directed towards the most vulnerable groups of the population. From the beginning, they have nurtured a multidisciplinary approach and have worked through mobile teams, in order to make their services more effective and accessible to all.
Eighteen years ago, thanks to the support from the Municipality of Tuzla, "Tuzlanska Amica" obtained a facility, which was later renovated and a part of it was made available to a public nursery, in order to enable the continuation of its work. "Tuzlanska Amica" ‘s headquarters, as well as their "Friendship House” in the Brcko District have become places for children and youth from socially marginalized groups, where creative and educational activities are being organized for children and youth, with the active participation of parents and the local community.
"Tuzlanska Amica" has implemented and is implementing projects to help children from socially marginalized groups. The project that has been implemented for 23 years, known as Children Need a Family / Adoption at a Distance, is primarily intended to support the education of children in need. Moreover, focus is on helping sick children, children and youth from the Home for Children Without Parental Care, organizing summer camps and vacations, building children's playgrounds in rural and suburban areas etc. In addition to supporting children, "Tuzlanska Amica“ helps their families improve their social and financial status.
"Tuzlanska Amica" has presented their experiences as well as research results at several important conferences, seminars and public appearances. They have also won several awards and have established close cooperation with centers for social work in the region, with a large number of schools, non-governmental and governmental organizations, with the Government of Tuzla Canton and the City of Tuzla.
Current challenges regarding the inclusion of children from low SES background in their community is connected to the large number of poor families and unemployed people, as a long-lasting consequence of the war. The situation is particularly difficult in rural areas, which are practically invisible to the authorities. Moreover, there is a significant inequality of social welfare in different parts of the country. Almost every municipality has its own law on social protection, especially in the Federation of BiH.
In their opinion, issues that have priority to be addressed are:
- Insufficient connectedness between centers for social work and schools, insufficient knowledge about their impact, and the lack of knowledge among wider community on the impact of the socio-economic status on education
- Insufficient awareness among policy makers about the impact of the socio – economic status on education and the future of children
- Inadequate cooperation at various levels of authority and institutions, and the non-governmental sector
- Insufficient awareness among policy makers about the impact of the socio – economic status on education and the future of children - it is necessary to make the problem more visible, to draw attention to the inequality of social support in different areas.
Even though "Tuzlanska Amica" has many years of experience in supporting children in need in terms of schooling and inclusion in the local community, through the ARISE project they expect to become even more visible, and that their experiences and results achieved so far, as well as the experiences of others, will be incorporated into new policies, all with the aim of providing children with equal opportunities. Moreover, they expect joint actions to be created with a clear goal and for the benefit of this category of children.
To learn more about "Tuzlanska Amica", visit their website and follow it on Facebook.