Learning to Give Back

“it’s such a different feeling but to be the one to give and to see the happiness in the eyes of others is so much better”

When Novi Most first started 30 years ago, we shipped hundreds of items to a war-torn and depleted nation. Over time, as the nation has started to rebuild, our focus has shifted from aid relief to pioneering the next generation so that they may build a brighter future of harmony and love. During my recent trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina, I encountered a heartwarming story that beautifully connects our past and present.

Many of us in the UK are familiar with the shoebox appeal, whether through church, school, or another community group. Participants would take an old shoebox, fill it with items, specify if it was for a boy or girl and the appropriate age. These boxes were then sent to children worldwide, serving as a vital reminder for many that Christmas is indeed a special time.

Perhaps, like me, you’ve wondered about the fate of the box. Where did it end up? Did the child like the toy? Were the socks the right colour?

Novi Most serves as a local distributor in Mostar for these shoeboxes, and I had the chance to catch up with Indira, who shared how she empowered young people to be givers of hope during Christmas 2022

I really wanted our young people to learn the importance of giving now that they are older. When they were young, they received help from others because of what had happened in our country, but now they must learn to be the ones who bring hope. I gathered our older youth and explained that now that they are older, it’s time for them to be the ones who serve and bring joy to others by giving out the Christmas shoeboxes. Then, I contacted a local school and made sure we would be able to go and give the boxes directly to the children.

On a cold morning in Mostar, we gathered the young people in a van with the boxes and headed to the school. The staff gave us a drink and then took us to the classroom where the children were patiently waiting, seated at their desks. We entered the class, and the young people went around handing out the boxes. Then, all at once, the children opened their boxes. It was so loud! It was wonderful to see their faces fill with joy as they saw these presents and started pulling items out of the boxes. The feeling of joy was so emotional for me and for the young people. Just the noise and excitement as they put on bracelets and took out toys, they were so happy.

All the way back, the young people were talking about how emotional it was. They never realized how wonderful it can be to be the person who brings the gift.”

The heart of youthwork is creating transformational change in young people, with the hope they will go on to take up their place in society and through the values they have learnt they will bring about positive changes in the world. Through the work of our team members like Indira we are seeing a brighter future for the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina