I learnt about solidarity from the example of my parents and it is a topic close to my heart.

UNICEF legacy gift programme

Marina Knežević Barišić
Gospođa Melita
16 July 2021

Melita (83) has been a UNICEF donor for many years. She became a Childhood Guardian after she found one day a money order in her letter box and learnt about what UNICEF does for the welfare of girls and boys in Croatia and abroad. She grew up during and after World War II.

"I know from personal experience what growing up in wartime is like. There were three of us children, my sister, my brother and me, and my brother was actually born during the war. I can still remember vividly running to the shelters, the sound of the planes and bombs. We lived near the railway overpass in Savska Street in Zagreb, and the overpass was often the target of attacks. I still have those pictures before my eyes. When we started school, we lived in great poverty, we had a hard life, but thanks to our parents, though, my memories of that time are not all bad. They watched over us and took care of us, tried to lighten these circumstances as far as they could. Both mum and dad were hardworking people. Dad was an orthopaedic expert. Mum had trained to be a seamstress before the war broke out, and I remember very well how she would get up at dawn and work in the garden so that we could eat our own homegrown vegetables. If she brought three apples or half a kilo of meat home, she would give them all to us," Melita said, adding that war trauma is overcome more easily when the family is a caring one.

It was in the family, seeing the example of her parents, that she learnt how to be a good person.

"Children learn from example, and less from words. Our parents pass on to us the values we hold dear. That we should not steal, should not harm anyone, that we should help others. But it wasn’t learning through lessons, it was rather the examples we learnt by watching mum and dad and how they behaved. That's why we didn't need to talk much. Solidarity is important. There are too many differences in society today around the world. What I’m saying is that if someone has earned billions honestly, good for them, but we should have feelings, empathy, and a heart for those who do not have enough. We should be able to see this, rather than simply closing our eyes when someone needs a helping hand,” she told us.

Melita is particularly pleased when she receives information via e-mail about programmes in which UNICEF invests funds raised through donors like her.


"If you have more than enough and you can help someone, it is important to know which organisation you share values with, the things you fully support as a person, and what is important to you. I know UNICEF well and I know what the funds are invested in. This is why, in addition to my family, I have included UNICEF in my will. You can't take anything with you when you go," Melita told us, adding that she wants to make sure that grown-ups really do their best so that there are no more hungry, thirsty, naked, barefoot and unloved children, and that they can make sure that every child grows up in peace and security.

This is a joint mission shared by UNICEF and its donors, and with such dedicated support, as shown by Melita, with additional inspiration and optimism, we can go  forward toward the goal of a happy childhood for every child.