Bosnia and Herzegovina – July 10 2020

25 years later, a mother's story from Srebrenica

Srebrenica, mid-July 1995. 13-year-old Merka held her dad’s hand waiting to board a bus.

“I said 'Dad, we're going here in this bus.' A soldier told him 'You cannot go. You cannot go in that bus. You're going here, in another.' 'You go,' dad said to me. 'I'll come. After you.’”

Merka never saw her dad alive again. His remains, found in 2006, are buried at the Potochari Memorial and Cemetery - the final resting place of 8.372 people who were killed in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

11 July 2020 marks 25 years since the Srebrenica massacre. Thousands of families will honour their lost loved ones and keep their memory alive so it may never happen again, to no one and nowhere.

Merka will never forget the last time she held her dad’s hand. His last words to her. And how he sent her off to safety while probably knowing he faced death. Her dad, her rock, has perished, but his legacy of a devoted and brave parent is very much alive with Merka.

Merka and Ragib


Today, 25 years later, Merka is the rock to her 13-year-old son Ragib. They live in a mountain village 16 km from Srebrenica. The small family struggles with poverty, but Merka works hard dedicated to giving her son a happy childhood and a bright future.

With the help of SOS Children’s Villages, Merka set up a small business selling eggs. Ragib is her right hand. The boy is the only child in the entire village, and hasn't played with another child since the schools switched to distant classes in March. Ragib doesn't complain though and enjoys helping his mom. Merka describes her son as a modest, friendly and emotional boy, and her main drive for success. “He gives me life, strength and joy. I don't ask for much. I just want him to be alive, healthly and happy.“

SOS Children’s Villages has run a family strengthening programme in Srebrenica since 2015. In 2019, a total of 92 vulnerable families (204 children and 173 parents) were helped through the programme.

Learn more about how we strengthen families