No One Is Left Behind – support to socially vulnerable families in Canton 10

The life in remote areas entails particular challenges, especially for the elderly and persons with low income who cannot travel to an outpatient clinic or a health centre to receive assistance. In order for the support and assistance to reach all socially vulnerable families in the area of Canton 10, the Red Cross of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and International Organisation for Migration have formed mobile teams.

The Karanovićs are one of 1,190 vulnerable families in the Drvar Municipality regularly visited by a mobile team.

In their first visit, the mobile team found Milovan and his family in a very difficult situation. “We had no food, firewood, living in cold rooms, house in a very bad condition, to collapse any day, we did not have basic living conditions. They bought us seeds, paid ploughing and helped us cultivate”, explained Milovan Karanović about the help from mobile teams.

“We quickly bought them food, hygiene sets, called the first sawmill and asked if they could provide firewood as a quick aid. At the time, we had briquettes in our warehouse, so we brought them 14 packages of briquettes. People from the sawmill were really quick to respond to our request and provided them with two cubic meters of firewood, brought them food so that they could sustain for some time until we take further steps”, explained Gordana Miljević, Secretary of the Drvar Red Cross.

Mobile teams for the provision of social services for returnees and internally displaced persons are composed of a nurse, a caregiver and a driver/handyman. Their task in direct contact with beneficiaries is to provide first medical aid, then delivery of food, medicines, organisation of transport in case of illness, but also to perform a variety of physical labour.

Eighty-two-year-old Dušanka and seventy-seven-year-old Stevanija Čičić were left alone at their family homes, in dilapidated conditions and without any income. They survive thanks to their own work.

“We are struggling. You have to do the work I did 30 years back, and I cannot really. Because I have small income and cannot make a living. You need to do some gardening to survive”, said Stevanija Čičić.

Without a mobile team, these two old ladies would not even have primary health care. The nurse, Aleksandra Bajić explained to us how the help is provided. “We offer primary care such as measuring sugar levels, pressure, we talk to them, bandage, administer shots. We can buy them medicines and deliver these for free, which is very useful given that these are the most remote communities.”

Old age and illness are difficult to handle. Members of the mobile team are the only visitors in the lonely lives of the two old women in the hamlet of Čičić. They never come empty-handed, and they are there to help.

“Duško performed works, chopped wood, helped out with the entire garden! I do not know if there is anything else or better that they can do”, explained Dušanka Čičić.

Through the activities of the mobile team, services in the field of social protection for the elderly and sick, as well as large families have been organised in the area of Grahovo.

Assistant Chief of General Administration and Social Protection with the Grahovo Municipality, Dragan Vukobrat explained to us mobile team’s everyday job. “In tours of the mobile team, functioning as a part of the Red Cross, we provide, it seems to me, solid assistance to these persons, whether in determining their medical condition, at least in part related to blood pressure, sugar levels and so on. Certain aid is also provided in terms of acquiring diapers for these people, so, in my view, we have a very good cooperation with the Red Cross and the mobile team.

“Unfortunately, young people are unemployed, and the elderly are left on their own. Health care is also poorly organised. We do not even have a health centre, but an infirmary and patients are then transported to, I do not know, the Health Centre Drvar, Livno, or somewhere else, if needed. We do not have a pharmacy, so the situation is dire”, said Dragana Damjanović Đurić, Secretary of the Bosansko Grahovo Red Cross.

In the Grahovo Municipality, the mobile team has 1018 registered beneficiaries, with over 500 field services provided. This is a scattered municipality, with villages remote as far as 40 km.

“The situation on the ground is very bad. The population here are mostly elderly returnees of poor health, so there is work to be done, to bring medicines, since in Grahovo there is no pharmacy, no nothing, and the nearest pharmacy is in Drvar”, explained to us Nenad Đurić, driver/handyman of the Mobile Team.

To seventy-two-year-old Mirjana Mićić from the village of Obljaj this help means a lot. “They come whenever we call them, to measure their blood pressure, sugar levels, when they have a bandage, whenever they have something, they give it to us.”

Establishing of mobile teams for field work with the most vulnerable families and individuals in Canton 10 is only one part of the project Applying the Human Security Concept to Stabilise Communities in the Canton 10. The project is implemented by UNDP, UNHCR, UNICEF and IOM, in partnership with the Government of the Canton 10, municipal authorities and civil society organisations and it is funded by the United Nations Human Security Fund.