The Center for Family Support has been established within the project “Strengthening of Young Roma Families” to assist socially vulnerable Roma families in Zemun and New Belgrade. The support of the Center includes individual psychosocial help, group counseling for vulnerable parents and children, support in education, as well as material assistance in the form of hygiene products, clothing, diapers, food and other vital items, depending on the needs assessed by the associates.
One of the families supported within the Center is a M. family of four members from the settlement of Kamendin in Zemun Polje. It consists of S. and Z., their daughter S. (6) and son L. (1). This family has many problems but it is very functional and stable. Z. is a housewife, and although suffering from diabetes S. works and earns as much as his health allows him in order to ensure the existence of his family members. The family lives modestly on social welfare, child allowance and S.’s earnings. Together, they have the son, while the girl S. is S.’s daughter from his first marriage. S. and Z. were given custody of her two years ago. The girl had been severely neglected while living with her mother. Since she started living with Z. and S., her health and physical condition have improved, but psychological consequences of the past trauma are still noticeable. S. is talkative and seems quite approachable. However, she often withdraws, becomes silent and refuses any kind of communication.
Parents and the girl receive support in the form of individual and counseling services, aiming at empowering parents, minimizing the consequences of the girl’s traumatic experiences and preventing any subsequent effects. Family members also participated in group workshops for vulnerable parents and children. Parents have gained knowledge on how to support their children and have been referred to specialized institutions that provide psychological support. The M. family emphasizes how significant this support is for them, because they receive concrete and intense assistance.
So far, 30 families have been included in the support system of the Center for Family Support, and it is expected that their number will reach 60. They are residents of the Roma settlements Marije Bursać, Plavi horizonti, Grmeč and social housing settlements Kamendin and Dr Ivan Ribar.
The project “Strengthening of Young Roma Families” is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany. The project is implemented by ADRA Serbia in cooperation with ADRA Germany. The main implementing partners are “Branko Pešić” School for Primary and Adult Education and SOS Children’s Villages Serbia.