Help supports people in Bosnia and Herzegovina in freeing themselves from unemployment and poverty. We offer vocational trainings, support local businesses and promote climate-friendly initiatives to strengthen the economy and create sustainable prospects.
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Driven by the past
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the wounds of the war years have still not healed. In 1992, as a result of the disintegration of Yugoslavia, the Bosnian War broke out, in the course of which around 100,000 people died. The capital Sarajevo and many other Bosnian towns and villages were badly destroyed, and large areas of land were mined. Some 2.2 million people were displaced within the country or fled abroad.
The years of violence between Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian soldiers continue to reverberate today. Power struggles between rival political camps, blocked attempts to come to terms with the war and a weak economy are just some of the reasons for the divisions that still exist in society. Unemployment is high, with one in four adults without a job. The challenge for the future is to open up opportunities, especially for the younger generation, and to prevent migration abroad as well as political and religious radicalization.
For some years now, Bosnia has been facing an additional challenge: numerous refugees and migrants have been trying to reach the European Union via the Balkan route. But the EU's external borders are heavily guarded. Thousands of people continue to stay in temporary shelters along the Bosnian-Croatian border.
Using local strenghts together
Help has been working for the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina since 1995. We are therefore very familiar with the challenges and opportunities in the country. Today, Help's work focuses on counteracting the great poverty and unemployment in Bosnia.
Following our principle of helping people to help themselves, we promote the education of young people, provide start-up assistance for new businesses and support local companies. In doing so, we draw on existing structures, such as the many regional restaurants and guest accommodations, the unique natural environment as an agricultural resource and tourist attraction, and centuries-old knowledge in the field of handicrafts. A focal point of our work is the strengthening of sustainable and environmentally friendly initiatives.
After the fire in the Lipa refugee camp in December 2020, we provided emergency aid for numerous refugees. Together with our partner organization SOS Bihać, we provided those affected with relief supplies, including warm clothing, sleeping bags and hygiene articles.
Donors: AA (Auswärtiges Amt), ADH (Aktion Deutschland Hilft), BMWK (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz), BMZ (Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung), Deutsche Stiftung Sarajewo, Europäische Union
A passionate carpenter
On some days he can no longer walk without crutches: Enver from Bosnia suffers from muscular dystrophy. Due to the hereditary disease, which his son also suffers from, he had to give up his job. He finds distraction from the pain in his passion - working with wood. “I've already worked in many professions, but working with wood has always been my favourite.” By selling his craftsmanship, he can continue to provide for his family.
Help has supported Enver with equipment for his workshop, which he initially used to produce souvenirs. Nowadays, he constructs beehives, which enable him to generate a lot more income. He is very happy with this development: “I was very happy about your call and that you were coming to visit me. Now you can see that I have used your help,” says Enver with a smile on our visit, three years after the sponsorship.
Pursuing his dreams
Danko is 35 years old and studied veterinary medicine. He and his family had to flee during the Bosnian War. The road from being a refugee in his own country to being a veterinarian was long, but Danko never gave up. After graduating, he opened his own practice with the support of Help. He takes care of farm animals and pets as well as street dogs, which he nurses back to health and places in a new home. Since then, Danko has even been able to hire two employees.
At Help, we are proud of Danko's success story: our support has created and secured three jobs in the long term. In the future, Danko would like to specialize in pets. He just likes them a little better.
- The unemployment rate in Bosnia is 17.41 percent (2021)
- 64 percent of young people between the ages of 14 and 29 are unemployed (2019)
- People earn about 481 euros on average, which means that the average income is still at the lower end in European and regional comparison (2020)
- 50.58 percent of people live in rural areas (2021)
Combating poverty and fostering integration through economic development:
- Start-up assistance for 1,825 entrepreneurs
- Support of 34 small business owners in the tourism sector
- Support for 32 people with disabilities through income-generating measures
- Creation of more than 1,842 new jobs
- Construction of 2,500 residential houses for returnees since 1995
Emergency aid after the fire in the Lipa refugee camp:
- Providing 400 refugees around Bihać with clothing, hygiene items, and food
- Medical care for 1,200 refugees for the containment and treatment of scabies