New Premises of Early Childhood Development Centre in Sarajevo
In football it can happen that we lose a match, as there is always another chance, but in the development of children we cannot afford to ever lose. - J.Hesse, EUD BiH
The new premises of Early Childhood Development Center have been opened, in Sarajevo Municipality of Novi Grad. Back in 2009, this was the first in Bosnia and Herzegovina to open such a centre. Similar centers exists in six more municipalities: Laktaši, Tuzla, Foča, Kiseljak, Bileća and Kotor Varoš. Integrated Early Childhood Development Centers are being one of the foundations of the Early Childhood Development Policies recently adopted in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the Republika Srpska, with UNICEF’s support.
UNICEF’s ambassador, Edin Džeko, BH national football team and Manchester City player opened the new premises, with support of the children from the Centre, together with the Mayor of Novi Grad Municipality, Damir Hadžić. The opening ceremony was also attended by Florence Bauer, UNICEF Representative in BiH, and Johan Hesse, on behalf of the European Union Delegation in BiH.
„I am very glad that the Centre has been provided with new premises giving a chance to more children to participate in this programme. I am also glad to be here today with children. I always feel good when I am around them, and I am happy that Novi Grad Municipality has recognized and provided support to this UNICEF’s programme. I am hopeful that the Centre will continue working well as has been the case so far, and provide these kids with the best start in life”, said Edin Džeko who was literally “occupied” by the children and parents as soon as he had shown up. Everyone wanted to approach him, talk to him and take a picture, and Džeko, regardless of the crowd, kindly talked and gladly posed for pictures with everyone.
As Rada Lukić, Centre’s Coordinator said, the need to open new premises arouse because parents and children shown huge interest, but also to expand the scope of services the Centre provides.
„Last year, around 700 families were served in the Centre, with 7500 services provided. The need to expand occurred on account of increasing number of both children and parents wanting to volunteer. We are also starting mobile teams that will be working with the children coming from hill-side parts of the municipality, and, in addition to the standard staff, we also intend to hire a gynaecologist to be working, once or twice a week, on education of young married couples wanting children, as well as of young mothers”, Rada Lukić said, adding that children’s dentist will also take part in the teams in order to take care of the dental health of the children.
„My Isak is three and a half years old, and he has been here since he was three. I am very satisfied with everything, we would only like it if there could be more terms available. Workshops are amazing, both for children and parents”, Nataša Šabanović said who came to the opening ceremony with her son Isak. Žale Mikačević is also very pleased, saying that she herself has attended workshops which she considers very useful, but that it was her daughter Lea who benefited most:
„She used to be rather withdrawn and shy. Here, she started socializing with children, and, look at her now – she is playing, she is with children, wants to get pictures taken…”.
Lejla Poljak who brought two daughters, Sara and Merjem, to the ceremony, says that they both go to the Centre, and that she would prefer it if there were more terms available.
„On a scale of one to ten, I give the Centre a straight ten! I am really satisfied, the progress the children are making is seen daily, but also us parents are making progress, since we have learned a lot at the workshops”, Lejla Poljak said.
Florence Bauer pointed out her satisfaction at the fact that the services of the Centre are expanding, thanking for this to the representatives of Novi Grad Municipality and the European Union, who have recognized its importance. She also added that the Centre is a part of the UNICEF’s policy of providing support to all the children , and it is a part of the “Enhancing the Social Protection and Inclusion System for Children in BiH”. The representative of the European Commission, Johan Hesse, congratulated UNICEF and the Municipality for the Centre and other efforts they have made.
„In football it can happen that we lose a match, as there is always another chance, but in the development of children we cannot afford to ever lose. I am pleased to see that this model has been initiated in BiH and that the children in this municipality will get all the services needed at early growth and development”, Hesse said.
(Text and photo: Almir Panjeta)