– 11 February 2019
“For the first time I feel like a real dad”
Kasum Fejzula, a 35-year-old single father and his four children, lives in a Roma community in a poor part of Skopje, Macedonia. He shares how family strengthening support has changed their lives.
Kasum Fejzula became a single father when his wife left him, leaving him to raise twin babies, a toddler and a child with special needs. At the time he could not work because he had no help with the children. They lived in a home where the roof leaked and there was no indoor toilet. There was not enough money to feed the children.
“We were in a pitiful situation. I often had dark thoughts,” Kasum recalls.
As a single father, Kasum struggled to care and provide for his children.
Eventually, he reached out to SOS Children’s Villages in Macedonia for support. Psychological counselling helped him to regain a more positive outlook on life.
“The psychologists pulled me out of the darkness,” he says. “I would often call them or they’d come to see me.”
SOS Children’s Villages also provided him with construction material so he could fix the family’s modest home and build a toilet. Additionally, the family received food, diapers, second-hand clothes and hygiene items to cover their most basic needs.
“What always impressed me is that these people from SOS Children's Village genuinely want to help families,” he says. “As a new single parent I was going through hell. They were the only ones who helped me.”
After the family’s situation stabilised, Kristijan Nushkov, the SOS family advisor, suggested Kasum get professional training so he could provide for the family. Given his role as the sole caregiver, they looked at options for home-based work so Kasum could take care of his children at the same time.
Kristijan Nushkov, SOS family advisor, visits families living in vulnerable circumstances at home and helps them to find solutions for their individual challenges.
Kasum completed a six-months sewing course. After he finished it, Kristijan took Kasum to a store to buy a sewing machine as an investment to help him become economically self-reliant. Kasum had misgivings about accepting the tool from SOS Children’s Villages. For him, the price equalled several months of public welfare support and it seemed like an exorbitant expense.
“There, in the middle of the store, Kristijan took me through the last two years of our joint journey and said 'With this you won't need us. You will be able to provide for your children on your own.' I started crying,” Kasum recalls.
Today, Kasum sews garments for a local shop and provides clothes mending services. He works from home to be able to be there for his children.
His sewing machine has become the main source of income for Kasum.
"It’s only few months since I have the machine, but I notice a great improvement to our life,” he says. “For the first time I can buy a candy or ice cream for my children. For the first time I'm not the parent who always says no because we need the money for bread. For the first time I feel like a real dad.”
Kasum’s oldest daughter attends a school for children with special needs, his five-year-old son is in pre-school and he hopes to enrol his youngest children, the twins, in kindergarten when they are old enough.
“The people from SOS Children's Village showed my children and me true care and love. They didn't see us or treat us as poor Roma people. All they care about is our well-being and our better future.”
Kristijan, the SOS family advisor, says Kasum’s family is one of more than 200 families being helped by SOS Children’s Villages in this community. The goal is to keep families together and help them become self-reliant.
Family advisor Kristijan with Kasum and his youngest children.
“Over the years the families placed their trust in us unconditionally. This is because we never give false hope and we always keep our word,” he says. “I celebrate all of the families’ successes as if they were my own.”
Photos by Katerina Ilievska