Every time you help a child, there is hope

Svetlana Marojevic’s life was marked by UNICEF

Vladimir Banic
Svetlana talking about UNICEF
UNICEF Serbia/2017/Banic

26 January 2017

Svetlana Marojevic’s life was marked by UNICEF. As a girl growing up after the World War 2, Svetlana clearly recalls the cedar wooden crates, with UNICEF’s well-known logo engraved on them.

“I think I grew up with UNICEF. Because I'm a Fifties child. We went to kindergartens because there we received one healthy meal, a healthy dairy meal. We got cheddar cheese and powdered milk through UNICEF. What was really nice, some good people always put little toys in the children’s packages.

The girls always got some plastic hair ribbons, which we thought were fantastic.

The boys got small trucks, some toys. The cheese and dairy products, and the vaccines which we probably received through UNICEF, were all very important for us growing up.

There was no rickets, and some of those other diseases which result from malnutrition. Those hair ribbons will remain in my memory forever,’’ Svetlana recalls.

While saying this last sentence, her cheek twitches slightly. She has bittersweet memories.

Still, Svetlana quickly becomes serious when her memories turn to a period when, as a UNICEF staff member, she was providing psychosocial support to children coming from war-torn areas.

“UNICEF’s psychosocial programmes primarily helped children who were vulnerable because of the war. There were different kinds of vulnerability. We had refugee children who came with severe physical traumas from the war-affected areas, who were in hospitals.

We addressed their physical traumas, but soon realised that their psychological, spiritual traumas were much more severe than the physical ones. We helped train the medical staff to work with these children. We also organised activities for children and their parents,” Svetlana recalls this terrible period in recent history.

UNICEF’s programmes during the horrific 1990s helped many people break away from the terrible realities of war. Children could be children again, parents could be parents and teachers could teach.

That is why Svetlana has a message for when you think that the world could not be more dangerous, more terrible or get any worse for children.

‘’For every child, hope.’’