Every time you help a child, there is hope

Sara Lukic was only eight years old when her town was hit by unprecedented floods.

UNICEF Serbia
Sara Lukic looking at the camera
UNICEF Serbia/2016

22 December 2016

Sara Lukic was only eight years old when her town was hit by unprecedented floods. Almost the entire town of Obrenovac, where she lives, was under water, and in some places it reached five meters in height. It was a terrible shock and Sara still remembers it very clearly.

“My town was flooded, everything was destroyed. Back then, everyone thought there was no hope at all. I looked out and it was raining. Everything was covered by water. I didn't know what was happening. I was really scared,” she recalls.

The images of the first hours of the flood, when the water suddenly covered the entire town, are still very vivid in her mind.

“My building was flooded all the way to the second floor. The floodwater was so strong that it broke through the garage door. Then a helicopter landed and, as ordered, women, children and the elderly were first evacuated, and then the men. That was the first time I saw tears in my dad's eyes. Mom was also very sad because she could not leave dad,” Sara remembers.

While her parents were watching the floodwaters carry cars and destroy houses, Sara looked toward the places that were part of her childhood.

“The playgrounds where I used to play were completely flooded. The playground outside my building was completely destroyed when I came back home. The swings were scattered all over the place, the seesaw was broken and it made me really sad.”

Yet Sara was worried about something even more important - about her friends who lived in the lower levels of the town.

“At the time I was also thinking about my friends. If they were evacuated, whether they all survived. It turned out that they did, and it made my really happy,” she finishes this memory with a smile.

In the 2014 floods in Serbia, 57 people died. 10,000 houses were flooded, and 32,000 people were evacuated.

It was not easy for normalcy to return to the town. It was particularly difficult for families with children, because they had to spend all their savings, if they had any, to purchase essential household items.

“Some people did not have enough money, they needed it badly for new furniture, and for new textbooks and school supplies for children.

However, UNICEF came and brought various supplies for children - backpacks, notebooks, they even brought us gift packs, pencil cases full of pencils and that was very nice. Even today, I still sometimes carry that backpack,” recalls Sara gratefully.

After a flood, the water withdraws. And yet the problems and sad memories remain. Sara Lukic has a message for everyone who may find themselves in a similar situation. A simple and inspiring message. “For every child, hope.”