Social or economic difficulties can often lead to a breakdown in the family unit resulting from alcoholism, drug addiction, delinquency and abuse. In cases when parents are no longer able to sustain a healthy family environment, the children are placed in foster care. One such center in Ljubljana, Dom Malci Beliceve —which Sonce v Srcu (SvS) has been working with since 2005—provides a home for 80 to 100 youth-at-risk between the ages of 5-17. The children are cared for by social workers and educators, receiving adequate nutrition, basic necessities and a positive environment to grow in. They attend local schools and receive sponsorship towards extracurricular activities.
While a child is removed from a dysfunctional home and placed into a foster center for their own safety and well-being, the transition is a traumatic one. The children are frightened and insecure and may suffer from anxiety, hyperactivity, depression and other behavioral issues. At the center, kind caretakers do their best to provide physical and mental health care. Community members are also encouraged to reach out to the children and help provide personal attention, clothing and toys.
SvS’ goal is to help make that transition less painful for the children by helping them gain self-esteem, learn communication skills, broaden their perspectives in life, and reinforce English language skills through positive interaction and communication. Since the children lack the privilege of being reared in a small family environment, there are many life skills which they do not have the opportunity to explore and develop. SvS organizes field trips and cultural workshops for the foster children in small groups once or twice a month to help provide new experiences and opportunities for growth and development.
A different country is featured each workshop. SvS staff and occasional guest speakers expound on life in their native country, the culture, the history, geography and other fascinating facts, using English as a medium. Slide shows, games, music, and documentaries bring each presentation to life.
The children then try their hands at cooking ethnic dishes and explore exotic flavors from around the world. This provides an opportunity to practice their life- and home-economic skills in a warm family atmosphere, encouraging friendship as well as team-working.
Thanks to SvS staff and local sponsors, the children enjoy activities such as rafting, bowling, fishing, camping, sight-seeing and other outdoor excursions in the lovely Slovenian Alps.
SvS and Dom Malci Beliceve staff have been delighted to observe positive changes in the children’s behavior and English fluency as a result of their participation in these activities.