The 1990s were a time of war, bombings, economic disruption and refugee dislocation in what is now the Republic of Serbia. In 2004, WWO was invited to a small orphanage in Kragujevac and asked to create a program for teenagers whose parents had died in the war or had otherwise lost all contact with their families.
Working with a local psychologist and with filmmaker/consultant Randy Bell, WWO began the “Return to the Future” program. The teens went back to their childhood villages and towns, sought out neighbors and family friends, and in some cases, actually found parents or siblings. They documented their “returns” in journals and photographs and worked with the psychologist to understand their feelings and responses.
The program, although small, was highly acclaimed and in 2008 was incorporated into the existing work of the Centers for Social Work – in other words, it became a fully-sustained program. However, that wasn’t the end. The teens who had been in the program had turned a page and they were ready to move on with their lives.
We made a commitment that any of them who were accepted by a Serbian college or vocational school would have our complete support. Today, WWO supports four of these young adults with our College Assistance Program as their lives truly are transformed.
Learn more about College Assistant Program