Life as a prison

The reality of “special needs children” living in Serbia/Bosnia is living life as in a prison. Please take a moment to read the following story from Serbia.

Several thousand children with disabilities in Serbia, mostly in rural areas live in a self/family/society imposed house arrest. The children are not let out and are hidden from the public, considering them a disgrace to the family. “Full time detention” with special needs kids is usually shared by the mother, who rarely leaves the house because the children have no one to care for them. The exact number of such children in Serbia, we do not know because their parents are hiding.

Most of these children are not registered in the social and health care system of Serbia. The state does not have any of their records, they simply do not exist. Parents of these children are physically decaying, worn out from fighting to provide the medicines, diapers, wheelchairs and continuous care.

Generally many of the fathers and mothers become alcoholics and fall into depression.

One part of Cherish Our Children’s Mission in Serbia is to find these children and then direct them to legal, psychological and medical help for them and their families. The question is how to find them?

Our methods are time consuming and yet effective. When we come to a village, we first talk with the priest, then the local post office and finally to neighbors.

Here is a recent example. “Eight days ago I learned that living in the village is a family with two small children, but few people in the village have ever seen the younger boy, Slobodan (4) who has ‘mental problems.’ Neighbors told me that his parents are hiding the since the village began to speak that the child is in fact ‘divine punishment’, because his great-grandmother as a young girl gave birth to a child and killed, and buried him in the field.

The neighbor confided to my wife that the hidden child is a boy. For 3 years, the house has been closed to outside people. No one has seen the child, even in the yard, but sometimes the neighbors hear noise when his mother beats him for some damage.”

Our COCI staff has informed the social work authorities, and now are preparing to visit this family together and help them gather all the necessary paperwork to accomplish all the rights that will help the child. COCI will ensure his place in a special group of special needs kindergarten children in Sopot.