Bosnia and Herzegovina – July 10 2020

25 years later, a mother's story after genocide

July 11 is the European Union’s official day of remembrance for the victims of the Srebrenica genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina. SOS supports families in Srebrenica, some of whom—like Merka—lost family members in the massacre.

Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, mid-July 1995. 13-year-old Merka held her dad’s hand waiting to board a bus. Merka never saw her dad alive again. His remains, found in 2006, are buried at the Potochari Memorial and Cemetery: the final resting place of 8,372 people who were killed in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

July 11, 2020 marks 25 years since the Srebrenica massacre. Thousands of families will honor their lost loved ones and keep their memory alive so it may never happen again, to anyone and anywhere.

Merka will never forget the last time she held her dad’s hand. His last words to her. And how he sent her off to safety while probably knowing he faced death. Her dad, her rock, has perished, but his legacy as a devoted and brave parent is very much alive with Merka.

Merka and Ragib


Today, 25 years later, Merka is the rock to her 13-year-old son, Ragib. They live in a mountain village about 10 miles from Srebrenica. The small family struggles with poverty, but Merka works hard and is dedicated to giving her son a happy childhood and a bright future.

With the help of SOS Children’s Villages, Merka set up a small business selling eggs. Ragib is her right hand. The boy is the only child in the entire village, and hasn't played with another child since the schools switched to distant classes in March during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ragib doesn't complain, though, and enjoys helping his mom. Merka describes her son as a modest, friendly and emotional boy, and her main drive for success. “He gives me life, strength and joy. I don't ask for much. I just want him to be alive, healthly and happy.“

SOS Children’s Villages has run a family strengthening program in Srebrenica since 2015. In 2019, a total of 92 vulnerable families (204 children and 173 parents) were helped through the program.

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