According to the latest census, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is the fourth most rural country in Europe, with 60% of the population in rural municipalities. There are quite a number of those who are far from the centers and come every day for transportation, procurement, and health services. For parents of schoolchildren, life in the countryside is an even greater challenge. Mehmedovic family, from Pale near Srebrenica, is one of them.
Nine-year-old Sejla Mehmedovic lives with her father and grandmother in Pale. In winter, when it snows, Sejla walks most of the way to school in Potocari, 4 km away. Nevertheless, this hard-working girl is successfully completing all her obligations. Domestic animals are her friends in the game: “When I come back from school, I have time for everything. First I change my clothes, eat, then I use the phone for a while, do my homework, read for my book assignment, do some work in the house and go to the barn. Of all the animals we have here, my favorite is the sheep called Belsijana, and a cat named Misko is in second place. “
Meva Mehmedovic is Sejla’s grandmother: “I am very proud. She studies well, and I like it. I can’t show her, we don’t have time, and the current school is not like those before. “
The school for children from the surrounding villages is often the only opportunity to socialize with their peers. To ensure school access for all children, the Srebrenica Municipality funds transportation for about 130 students from more remote villages.
Edisa Mehmedanovic is Sejla’s teacher: ”Children from my class hang out after school because they are all close. Sejla is not there and I think that is one of the reasons why she can’t wait to come to school because it is her magical world, where she enjoys the company of her peers. “
Danijela Jovanovic is from Slatina near Potocari. She explained what happens when there is a lot of snow: “When it falls, we have problems with transportation, because you can’t get through the snow, and then I tell the teacher that I can’t come.”
“We have mostly covered all children who travel over four kilometers to school, but we try to meet the needs of those children who live 2 or 3 km from school or are alone in the village, so we try to help parents provide transportation,” told Adem Mehmedovic, head of the Department for Social Activities of the Municipality of Srebrenica.
The majority of the already small population moves from remote villages to the centers in the winter months. They mentiontransportation and the availability of public services as the primary reason.