thomas does: Balkan Diaries I Centar Duga Kinderheim

Here is the second episode in Thomas Bönig’s “thomas does: Balkan Diaries” series . Click here to read the first part.

Guardian Angel wanted.
Happiness found.

A newborn lies in its bed. It doesn’t have a name yet – the child welfare office will send a notifier in a few weeks. A piece of paper defining a name for a lifetime. The baby is screaming until the nurses cover it with blankets, caressing the little head until it falls asleep. Maybe a few hours will pass until it will wake again. To understand why the mother left, right after giving birth to it, years will pass – maybe decades.

We learned a lot during our visit at the orphanage near Bihac. That children can be unbelievably well-mannered – when they are treated the right way and gain trust. Rainbow bubbles can provide infinite joy and laughing makes blowing impossible. And that dedicated people can provide an almost irreplaceably important contribution, as soon as they started realizing their ideas.

Centar Duga (Rainbow House) is run by the association, Schutzengel gesucht (Guardian Angel Wanted). It was founded 15 years ago by a small group of people from Schwabach, Germany and is located in the small Bosnian town of Kulen Vakuf. Today it cares for up to 24 kids from newborns to six years old with 24 hour care in three shifts – to create a family for the kids until adoption or even returning them to their own families.

Those families, very often dysfunctional beyond compare, are given help and psychological care, to stabilize the structures. The parents often aren’t even able of providing a minimum of parental care as they are too poor, too weak, too apathetic, too sick or just too drunk – scarred by war. The consequences will be inherited by the future generations of abandoned children in Bihac. But by helping exactly where help is needed, Centar Duga succeeds at reintegrating every third child in their respective families. Sometimes after a few months, sometimes after years.

We are excited and happy. Centar Duga is a great place and an even better opportunity to do good. Some pictures of our trip through Bosnia will be auctioned at an exhibition – the proceeds will go directly to Centar Duga. Stay tuned for more information.

- Axel Rabenstein, text
- Thomas Bönig, images

Learn more about Thomas’ project on his website and Facebook page. For more information on Centar Duga, click here.