There is a house in a quiet neighbourhood in Belgrade where the most vulnerable children have a chance for a better life. The “Pedro Arrupe” Integration House is a shelter for victims of physical, psychological and sexual violence, and to young boys at risk of becoming victims of human trafficking, various forms of exploitation and smuggling.
It is not just a simple house with a living room, kitchen, porch, IT room, classroom and yard, it is more like a family home with all the necessities for basic hygiene, clothing and medical care provided, so the residents can have fun and explore their environment like any other child. With the help of teachers at the home, the children can continue their education and enjoy themselves after school.
The shelter has been home to 70 boys since its establishment in 2017. There are 8 employees and 2 volunteers who help not only with their studies, but in organising activities with other local students to help breakdown the cultural barriers between them. The aim is to strengthen the boys’ education, integrate them into a new society, and do so while having fun, if they feel like it.
Nothing could better express the feeling this home gives the boys than how one boy compared it to a move scene: ‘I remembered the heroes in movies opening their window in the morning to a beautiful sunrise. I wished I could have that. It is amazing… now I do.’
It is important for all children, especially those who have been separated from their families, to have a role model in their life—someone who will inspire them to be a better person. While the boys learn from their teachers, the teachers have an effect on them, and together they work for a better, common future.