Tome lived at the institution in Demir Kapija for 26 years. Thanks to EU project TIMOR (Together for Introduction of More Opportunities and Respect), he has now finally been allowed to move to a group residence. Joining forces with local organisations in North Macedonia, Loza Foundation has managed the TIMOR project and seen it through to fruition.
Watch the documentary that Loza Foundation and the TIMOR project have produced, and find out from Tome how his life has changed.
”By producing this film, we let the disabled people have their say. No one can tell the truth like the people who have actually experienced life on the inside. Their depiction of how amazing it was and how it improved their life to get out of the institutional care and be offered dignified living conditions in a group residence is a solid testimony to the fact that our work really does make a difference, and that TIMOR has been successful”, says Sabina Grubbeson, Secretary-General of Loza Foundation.
In the film, Aneta and Stefan also share their experiences of living in a group residence with support staff. We are given a glimpse of what their life at the institution was like before, and they tell us about the life they have today.
The film is now available on the Loza Foundation website. Please presshereto get to the film.
Loza Foundation continues to help the remaining 60 disabled, institutionalised people at the Demir Kapija institution.
”We are talking to the decision-makers in North Macedonia to create dignified living conditions for the individuals who have been left behind, while we are also carrying on with our fundraising to finance a sustainable, long-term change. Our goal is to not leave anyone behind at the institution”, says Sabina Grubbeson.
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Today as many as 3,000 people are estimated to be living as paperless citizens of North Macedonia, most of them children. Not having an identity makes it impossible to attend school, which effectively is a crime against Article 28 of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child, where it is stated that every child has the right to free primary education.
“This is nothing short of a violation of these rights. Parents face unfeasible demands to prove their own and their children’s identity in order to have the right to schooling, health care and social security. This means children miss their chance to learn how to read and count, which, in turn, leads to them being stuck in poverty and social exclusion”, says Pär Rylöv, Chairman, Loza Foundation.
This is not the first time Loza Foundation has written about these two sisters, Samira and Natalija. In an article published in March 2022, Loza Foundation described how the two girls, their siblings and parents, who were previously homeless, had been given a home and, thus, the chance to start a new life far away from poverty and social exclusion. Then, in September 2022, it was time for Samira and Natalija to start school, but they were denied a place as they did not have birth certificates. Ever since then, Loza Foundation has done everything in its power to provide identity documents for Samira and Natalija, who have by now turned 7 and 10 years old, but so far, Loza has not succeeded.
“It is absurd to think that children are not welcome at school, and we hope that the authorities of North Macedonia will prioritise this on a national level. EU reports show that the lack of identity papers closes the door to so many people trying to escape poverty. Despite this, it is virtually impossible to get through the process, and the number of children barred from society is everincreasing.”
When it comes to Samira and Natalija, the problem is that the girls were born in Italy when their family lived there for a period of time. The authorities of North Macedonia require birth certificates from the country of birth. Bojana Atanasova, a board member at Loza Foundation, used to work at the Health Ministry in North Macedonia, and she is frustrated with the situation:
“The law has to be changed for Samira, Natalija and all the other paperless children to be admitted to school. This issue has been debated for years, but nothing seems to happen. Therefore, from a legal standpoint, these children do not exist. With every year that passes, the chance to schooling diminishes, and so, their chance of escaping poverty once and for all”, says Bojana Atanasova.
The local Loza Foundation team in North Macedonia has worked for several years, assisting and supporting families with children who live in extreme poverty so that they can obtain identity documents. Still, in some cases, such as with these two children, it seems like a lost cause.
Zaklina Durmis works at the Center for Educational Support Dendo Vas. She confirms that a new law has to be introduced and accepted nationally for the children and adults, who lack North Macedonian birth certificates, to become a part of society and to have the right to schooling and health care to name but two.
“We are well aware of the fact that this is a complex situation for families like Samira and Natalija’s. This is why new legislation is required to allow North Macedonian authorities to issue identity documents for these people”, says Zaklina Durmis.
To ensure children like Samira and Natalija will not fall behind in school, Loza Foundation has hired an assistant to work in the field and provide home schooling.
“This is a stopgap measure. It is not sustainable for us long term to provide education like this, but while we wait for a solution to these ID issues, we will do everything in our power”, says Pär Rylöv, Chairman, Loza Foundation.
Investments in future generations, i.e. when children are given schooling, thus, having more opportunities than their parents had, can significantly impact a country’s overall development.
“Excluding children from school creates hostility and reinforces conflicts that have consequences in the future. Loza Foundation actively works for the individual child, who may need a pair of shoes to be able to go to school, but they also strive for societal changes. That is why we need your support”, says Pär Rylöv, Chairman, Loza Foundation.
The North Macedonian authorities admit this is a real issue. Alexandra Efremova, Macedonian Young Lawyers Association (MYLA), says: “It is shameful and such a failure for a country aspiring to EU membership to have 700 known individuals that, due to administrative procedures, do not have the opportunity to obtain identity documents”.
In March 2022, North Macedonia officially entered into membership talks with the EU. The report from the first Intergovernmental Conference (19 July 2022) states “Further efforts are required in order to deal with structural problems, e.g. a lack of resources for the public institutions working with children’s rights, a lack of strategic documents relating to children’s rights and how the statutory body responsible for monitoring the implementation of the convention on the rights of the child actually works. So far, an action plan for children, including a sufficient budget and models for providing effective services for children, has not yet been developed.”
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If you want to learn more about our business partnerships and how these enable Loza Foundation to help more families with children escape extreme poverty, please click this link. To become a business partner, please contact email@example.com
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As a monthly donor, you will continuously support the work of Loza Foundation. You can read more about monthly donations on our website. Become a monthly donor here.
Families with children living in extreme poverty
The support and mentor program’ Families with children living in extreme poverty in North Macedonia’ supports the UN Global Goals for sustainable development through goal number 1, No Poverty. Read more about the UN Global Goals here.
Loza Foundation has been part of EU project ‘TIMOR’ since 2019. The goal is to create group homes in North Macedonia, into which disabled people from the institution in Demir Kapija can move and have a dignified life as part of the local society. Unfortunately, at the end of 2022, this successful EU project will come to an end, but Loza’s work for the disabled continues.
“If everything goes according to plan, around 60 people will remain at the institution in Demir Kapija after the project has finished. Loza Foundation continues the work to ensure that all the individuals will be moved to group homes with dignified living conditions”, says Sabina Grubbeson, Secretary-General, Loza Foundation.
For almost three years, Loza Foundation has worked to get people with disabilities out of the institution in Demir Kapija and into group homes. The work has been carried out within the framework of EU project TIMOR. The people who are now left at the institution are people with severe disabilities and require lots of care. Moreover, the premises are in deplorable condition and do not meet the required accessibility standards, e.g. wheelchairs are often missing wheels and a seat.
“While we are delighted that so many have been moved out, it is painful to see many are still there. The staff are also expressing frustration and disappointment, and to the personnel, we want to emphasize that we are not giving up; we will keep on working to give everyone a good home.”
As the most robust individuals have left the institution by now, only the weakest and most disabled people remain. Although it sounds contradictory, this actually means an increased workload for the staff.
“In the past, the stronger, more able-bodied could help their fellow residents and thereby relieve the staff of some duties. Now the staff are buckling under the workload, and the living conditions of the residents have sadly deteriorated further.”
Loza Foundation continues to strive to create opportunities for the living conditions of the remaining 60 disabled residents to improve. Back in October, the new chairman of Loza Foundation, Pär Rylöv, visited North Macedonia and the infamous institution in Demir Kapija.
“We are working on finding a good solution for the remaining residents. At the same time, our fundraising continues, and we are communicating with the authorities in North Macedonia. Our goal is that no one should be left behind in that institution, says Pär Rylöv, Chairman, Loza Foundation.
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The project is a success but has stirred up a lot of feelings
Despite hardships such as a pandemic and inflation, the project has proceeded.
“TIMOR is a successful project. CeProSARD, which we collaborate with locally, has had to put up with challenges such as inconsistent guidelines or rules and the social stigma linked to disability that is very much present in North Macedonia. Our project team has handled each problem calmly and patiently.”
Up to now, it has been unusual for disabled people in North Macedonia to be a part of society. People are not used to seeing or meeting individuals who are different. The CeProSARD project team has put much effort into informing, communicating and responding to people’s scepticism.
“We have tried to tackle prejudice, for instance, by participating in TV and local media. Our goal is for the public to discover the joy and love disabled people spread all around and to accept them as part of society.”
Their work has sometimes involved publicly displaying pictures of vulnerable people, which has raised questions and caused certain reactions.
“The purpose of Loza Foundation is to help vulnerable people to achieve a dignified life. The communication and information we have put together to describe our work can often evoke strong feelings. Still, by showing the world what the situation is like right now, we hope to make more people understand and increase awareness.
Gardening is part of the therapy
Within the TIMOR framework, methods for restorative, therapeutic activities have been developed, e.g. gardening and growing herbs. All in all, 25 nursing assistants have been taught gardening therapy (green therapy).
“Gardening therapy is healing and restorative. Research shows that it has calming effects and reduces anxiety and worry. Furthermore, it brings joy and physical activity too. The group homes need donations to be able to continue gardening, for instance, seeds and garden tools. There is also a never-ending need for clothes, shoes, and items linked to learning and creativity, such as jigsaw puzzles and educational board games.
Life outside of the institution
Moving out of an institution and into a group home is a huge change for someone who has lived their whole life inside the walls, in a world totally closed-off from the rest of society.
“Individuals adapt in their own time, some people faster than others, but over time, we can see they feel better, become happier, function better in their everyday life and their communication with the world around them improves too.”
In some cases, special arrangements must be made, and the number of staff members needs to increase in order for the disabled to be able to live in group homes. Such research and mapping need to be carried out on an individual basis.
“We foresee that a new project may have to be put in place to meet the demands of special, bespoke group homes, and this is something we will look into.”
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While the eyes of the world turn towards Ukraine, the energy crisis and high inflation, the poorest people are even worse off. The situation is beyond desperate for many of them. Loza Foundation is working to improve the living conditions of families with children currently living in extreme poverty in North Macedonia and is increasing its efforts to deliver humanitarian aid before the winter.
“We are apprehensive about the trends we see worldwide, and we can only keep our fingers crossed for a mild winter. The high food prices and lack of firewood make people desperate, and they are forced to leave their homes in search of warmth and money for food”, says Sabina Grubbeson, Secretary-General, Loza Foundation.
The current crisis in Europe puts more and more people into extreme poverty, and the people already in that segment find themselves in an even worse position.
“We are receiving worrying statements from our aid workers in the field, who tell us that many families have to sell the few possessions they own and flee to other countries in Europe. They are often refused on the border and are not allowed to gain entry to the new country, and when they are sent back, their situation is even worse than before.”
This autumn, Loza Foundation has been working intensely to gather funds and organise aid deliveries for the winter, in cooperation with companies such as Shepherd of Sweden. The employees of this shoe company have collected and donated warm clothes for children and adults, while the company donates winter shoes and warm slippers. Shepherd of Sweden will also pay for the freight costs.
“Shepherd of Sweden has been Loza Foundation’s business partner since 2021. We have our manufacturing in North Macedonia, work actively with the Global Goals of the UN, and therefore want to act locally to combat poverty. Loza Foundation’s strong presence in the country means shorter routes between the sponsor and the recipient, and the donations are put to good use. As we can see the need is increasing in line with the crisis in Europe, we increase our efforts, and there is an aid delivery on its way to North Macedonia as we speak. Through Loza Foundation, we are pleased to be able to contribute to a slightly warmer winter for the poorest and most vulnerable”, says Maria Leijonhufvud, Head of Design and Sustainability, Shepherd of Sweden.
Earlier this year, Loza Foundation received a donation from Mia of Sweden, which contained 6,000 garments, warm jackets, sweaters and warmly lined trousers for children aged 1-8 years. This summer, the jackets have been packed with a few other garments inside, thus making the jacket the actual packet and creating a clever Zero Waste solution without any additional packaging. Furthermore, Vagabond Shoemakers have contributed with shoes and L:a Bruket with sanitary items.
“The response from Loza’s business partners and the public has been fantastic and has helped us create more aid packages. Clothes and shoes that would fit children aged 9-15 have also been collected by private individuals.”
Up to now, administering and organising second-hand clothes and shoes has involved lots of work, and in order to make this process more effective and for the aid to reach as many people in need as possible, Loza has started working with Arbetscentrum in Varberg.
“Esther at Arbetscentrum reached out to us, offering their help with packaging as well as contributing with things that may be missing for our aid packages.”
Arbetscentrum is an operation run by the municipality, offering daily activities for people with disabilities. They have recently incorporated second-hand goods with activities such as washing clothes, sorting, drying and ironing. Quite simply a perfect match for Loza Foundation, which also runs projects to improve the rights of disabled people.
In the project ‘Families with children in extreme poverty’, Loza Foundation are putting in hands-on efforts for the poorest and most vulnerable people in Europe. Focusing on the UN Global Goals for sustainable development, their work directly addresses the first four goals: No poverty, Zero hunger, Good health and well-being, as well as Quality education for everyone.
“During 2022, we have increased the project from approximately 100 children and adults to just over 200. We are now preparing a national project in North Macedonia and have visited 14 of the most disadvantaged areas this year. The purpose of this national project is to ‘educate a generation’ and thereby create the prerequisites to reduce poverty. In the long term, going to school and learning how to read and write is the way out of poverty. Through education, people can get a job and become a part of society”, says Sabina Grubbeson.
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Thanks to our business partners and other joint ventures, Loza Foundations will be able to continue to work in the field and send aid deliveries.
However, we sadly see less financial support coming through from both companies and the public while the needs are ever-increasing. This is why we need more people to help out: monthly donations, sponsorships and business partners.
With more support, we can carry on and increase our efforts and reach even more people.
“Why not think of Loza Foundation as a gift for someone you care about? A sponsorship is a beautiful gift, which not only brings joy to the recipient but also to the person in extreme poverty who can survive the winter and have faith in the future”, says Sabina Grubbeson.
Loza Foundation Business Partnerships
If you want to learn more about our business partnerships and how these enable Loza Foundation to help more families with children escape extreme poverty, please click this link. To become a business partner, please firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you want to set up a monthly donation
As a monthly donor, you will continuously support the work of Loza Foundation. You can read more about monthly donations on our website. Become a monthly donor here.
Families with children living in extreme poverty
The support and mentor program’ Families with children living in extreme poverty in North Macedonia’ supports the UN Global Goals for sustainable development through goal number 1, No Poverty. Read more about the UN Global Goalshere.
Suzana is 33 years old, and together with her husband Emran, 34, she has six children ranging from three to fifteen years old. Up until the 3rd of August 2022, the family lived on blankets under a bridge in Veles, North Macedonia, and all they collectively owned, apart from their youngest son’s pram, could easily fit into a plastic bag. However, Loza Foundation has now donated a house, which the family has moved into. From this point forward, there is an opportunity for this family to raise their life from extreme poverty and vulnerability to hopeful anticipation and increased safety.
“A home is a prerequisite to be able to get out of extreme poverty. Being able to take care of one’s personal hygiene and wash one’s clothes is fundamental to improving one’s situation and managing one’s health. When you don’t even have the option of keeping clean, you lose your dignity as a human. Loza Foundation is relieved and happy to be able to offer this family a home so that their most basic needs can be taken care of. They finally have a situation which allows the parents to work and the children to go to school”, says Sabina Grubbeson, Secretary-General, Loza Foundation.
Not having a roof over one’s head, having no income, and living in such vulnerable conditions as homelessness generally is, can also lead to health issues. Suzana has a slipped disc that needs an operation, she and Emran both suffer from heart disease, two of their children have chronic bronchitis, their 8-year-old has a hernia which needs an operation and their youngest boy suffers from severe cramps and stomach problems. The little money they manage to scrape together is spent on medicine, and the situation has gone from bad to worse, deteriorating every day.
“Emran and I want nothing more than to work and for our children to go to school. Now, when we are no longer homeless, we have the possibility of achieving this. Ever since we lost our house in a landslide several years ago, we have had to cope with a very stressful situation. To see your children feeling worse and worse without being able to put a roof over their heads is awful. As Emran’s and my health have deteriorated, our overall situation has worsened too. For the first time in many years, we can see a brighter future with the possibility of getting back on our feet and receiving help to tackle the family’s health problems”, says Suzana.
Homeless people in extreme poverty are often an unwanted aspect of society. Many choose to look away because of fear, prejudice, shame, guilt or because it is quite simply uncomfortable to see these people. When Loza first met the family in May 2022, the quest for a room to rent started straight away. After five failed attempts to sign a rental agreement, they decided to buy a house instead, as the situation was critical.
“We spent months looking for a room or a flat to rent for this family. There was no shortage of rentals, but time and time again, they were refused a lease. Finally, when they had been subjected to this humiliation for the fifth time, i.e. a landlord changing his mind when he met the family in person, it was time to change tactics and look for a house to buy instead. I get so angry, disappointed and frustrated when I see how vulnerable people are treated inhumanely, undignifiedly, and with no sign of empathy. Never before have the Loza intervention team or I had such a brutal and painful awakening as when we became aware of the horrendous discrimination poor people are subjected to.”
During Loza Foundation’s research trip in May, Sabina Grubbeson and the local intervention team visited ten or so destinations in North Macedonia. These locations, i.e. some of the most deprived places in the country, have been mapped within the framework of a review funded by European Aid, and a subsequent survey will be done in September 2022. At that point, the team will visit the remaining four of the fourteen most deprived areas.
When we visit Suzana and her family in September, they will have lived in the house for about a month. The children are starting school in September, and the Loza intervention team will carry on reviewing and supporting the family until their situation and health are stable. This venture with Suzana and her family has been made possible through monthly donations to Loza Foundation; 177 SEK per month is, for instance, enough for one child to go to school. A monthly contribution will cover food, clothes and school materials, which are crucial if a child living in extreme poverty is to go to school.
Thanks to people donating monthly and to our business partners, more children and their parents can leave deprivation and dejection behind and instead feel hopeful and a sense of dignity.
“To donate monthly, regardless of how large your monthly donation is, is an incredible contribution. Loza does not tie their donors to a specific sum or time frame; the donors set up a monthly donation of their choice and continue giving for as long as they like and can. Every single krona makes a difference, and together our donors can change the life situation for vulnerable, deprived people in extreme poverty, so that they can create a better life for themselves”, says Sabina Grubbeson, Secretary-General, Loza Foundation.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) declares that all children have the right to a home, and since 2019, the recommendation is that children should, as far as possible, live and grow up with their parents. Loza Foundation strives to support families with children in extreme poverty and prioritises them as the most deprived and vulnerable.
Click HEREto watch the film ‘No Poverty’ about Loza Foundation’s work for the poorest and most deprived.
Loza Foundation’s business partnerships:
Do you want to know how a business partnership works and how our partnerships enable us to help more families with children from extreme poverty? Find out more HERE.
For almost three years, Loza Foundation has been part of an EU project called TIMOR, where the purpose is to develop group homes for disabled people in North Macedonia so they can move out of the antiquated institutions where they have been living. Through this EU project, Loza Foundation came into contact with a local driving force focusing on social enterprising, Daliborka Zlateva, who is starting several, privately managed group homes in 2022.
“In 2022, Loza Foundation supports EU project TIMOR with a sum of 200,000 SEK, and through this donation, we are also supporting Daliborka’s hard work establishing and running these privately managed group homes. In practice, this means that more disabled people can get out of the institutions, and new employment opportunities are created, contributing to a more inclusive society. Furthermore, with local enthusiasts like Daliborka, more group homes can become a reality in the geographic locations where they are most needed, even after Project TIMOR is finished”, says Sabina Grubbeson, Secretary-General, Loza Foundation.
In the autumn of 2021, it became apparent that the state would not manage all the group homes needed to house the disabled people of North Macedonia, who needed to move out of the outdated institutions. So, through the TIMOR project, a national campaign was launched with the aim of offering parties from the private sector to run group homes.
“The state of North Macedonia will continue to pay for part of the costs associated with each resident, e.g. pay the rent for the properties, but private initiatives and parties are needed to develop, run and manage the group homes”, Sabina Grubbeson explains.
Daliborka Zlateva has run an association for people with cerebral palsy for many years, and the purpose is to “create a world without any obstacles, but with the same opportunities for everyone”. Over the last ten years, they have created job opportunities for the disabled and offered temporary relief for the parents.
“The team working on the TIMOR project came into contact with Daliborka when they were searching for potential business partners in the private sector. Daliborka is full of energy. She is humble and empathic, while she also has extensive experience in running social enterprises in North Macedonia. I am so happy for all the people who have already moved and will be able to move to the group homes Daliborka are building. Her warm, open-hearted commitment makes the people around her feel safe, and for anyone that has lived under the appalling conditions of the institutions, the feeling of being safe in the group home is certainly restorative”, says Sabina Grubbeson.
Furthermore, the Association for People with Cerebral Palsy that Daliborka founded manages therapy and activity centres for disabled people. It also has access to land where medicinal herbs such as lavender and marigold are cultivated. The herbs are pressed, distilled and sold as essential oils. The business is partly funded by GEF SGP (Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme), and the revenue from their operations is used to develop the group homes further and create new ones.
“Everyone has the right to a residence where they are met with respect and care. For the disabled people living in an institution, such as the Demir Kapija institution that Loza has done reports on before, Daliborka’s hard work and commitment mean a lot. More disabled people will soon gain access to a calm, dignified and safe environment that will feel like a proper home. Many of the people living in these institutions today have never had any personal belongings or clothes of their own. And even if the transition phase may be frightening when you have never experienced a life outside of the institution’s wall, the long-term result will be an enormous improvement”, says Sabina Grubbeson.
In 2022, Daliborka has already started one group home, another facility will open in mid-June, and two more will be finished before year end. All in all, 20 people with varying degrees of disability will be able to move into the group homes Daliborka will create this year.
“It is amazing that we, through the TIMOR project, have been able to enter into such a rewarding partnership with Loza Foundation. Our organisations and operations complement each other perfectly, and thanks to our partnership, we will be able to offer even more disabled people a dignified residence. We will also provide relief for parents who are caring for their disabled children at home”, says Daliborka Zlateva, chairman of The Association of People with Cerebral Palsy.
Loza Foundation supports the EU-funded TIMOR project with an annual sum of 200,000 SEK in 2020, 2021, and 2022. This aid is, for example, used to develop the group homes for disabled people and to educate the personal assistants who will work at these group homes. Project TIMOR – Together for Introduction of More Opportunities and Respect – is implemented by CeProSard “Center for Promotion of Sustainable Agricultural Practices and Rural Development” in North Macedonia in partnership with:
Association for special needs teachers and rehabilitation therapists in North Macedonia
Special Institution in Demir Kapija
Demir Kapija town council
The project is financed by the European Union
Loza Foundation will continue to support Daliborka’s work and privately managed group homes even after the three-year EU project finishes in December 2022.
Right now, Daliborka needs a minibus to enable the disabled residents of the group homes to get around, make doctor appointments or go shopping, but also to visit new places and make new friends that will help enrich their new life in freedom outside the institutional walls. Loza Foundation is currently investigating the possibilities of being able to donate such a minibus.
Would you like to support the work of Loza Foundation and contribute to Daliborka’s group homes? Please send your donation to bank account 900-6248 or Swish 900 62 38 (only available in Sweden). Also, please state” Daliborka” in the comment section.
Towards the end of 2021, Loza Foundation started collaborating with 14 companies where the aim was to work together to reduce extreme poverty and help some of the poorest families in Europe to a sustainable life. The partnership is based on the UN’s Global Goals with a particular focus on Goal no. 1, i.e. No Poverty, and will run throughout 2022. Thanks to these efforts, one of the families has already been moved into a home of their own for the first time, and that has been achieved within the first three months of the project. This is the story of six-year-old Samira and her family.
Samira is six years old and her family consists of Samira’s mummy, Asbija, Samira’s daddy called Albert, her two sisters Enisa (14 yrs) and Natalia (9 yrs) and her big brother Kevin (10 yrs). Samira’s family has been homeless throughout her short life and has been forced to move numerous times and swapped one shed or barrack for another. Their last place was part of a settlement in the outskirts of Skopje. During the first few weeks of January 2022, there were several heavy downpours, and the shed the family lived in got flooded.
“Loza has worked with this family for two years to create the right conditions and opportunity for them to get out of the extreme poverty they have suffered up to now. It is a complex task that requires a lot of commitment, both short-term and long-term, and it requires lots of resources, both monetary and other contributions. But, thanks to the support from our partner companies, we could act quickly and help the family”, says Sabina Grubbeson, Secretary-General, Loza Foundation.
In February, a house that Loza Foundation has acquired was renovated. The house has one room and a kitchen, with electricity, water and wastewater drainage. Unfortunately, due to the acute situation that arose in January, the family had to move into their new home before the house was finished and furnished, but even so, the family was so relieved and happy.
“I cannot remember when we last slept in a real house. We have lived in sheds and ramshackle constructions without running water or electricity for such a long time. Even though we slept on the floor the first few nights in the house, I felt very happy, safe, and calm, both as a mother and as a human being. Now, my children can sleep safe and sound, with a roof over their heads in a home of our own, where we can lock the front door. I can hardly believe it is true”, says Asbija.
The next few months will involve significant adjustments for the family. The Loza support team will be on hand to support them through this period, to facilitate the change from homelessness, social alienation and extreme poverty to inclusion in the local community and implementation of everyday routines that work. The children have been enrolled at school, so Samira’s older siblings will start at the local school, and Asbija will look for work.
Samira has just started kindergarten and when she grows up, she wants to be a police officer.
“When I grow up, I want to put people who do bad things in jail, so they cannot steal anymore or do other damage.”
Natalia, nine years old, wants to study to become a doctor, which now is not just a dream but a realistic, doable plan.
“I want to become a doctor and treat ill people. I want to help them feel good and be happy.”
When Loza started working with this family two years ago, they had five square metres to themselves in a house without windows and just a piece of fabric serving as their front door. For most of their life, this family has lived from hand to mouth, collected scrap metal and plastic, or begged in the street to survive.
“It is a long way from extreme poverty to inclusion in the local community and society on the whole, and to have a well-functioning everyday life. The Loza Foundation project ‘Families in extreme poverty’ works long-term to ensure that the most vulnerable, poorest children are given a better life”, Sabina Grubbeson explains.
Both 6-year-old Samira and 9-year-old Natalia are sponsored by Swedish support families, who make monthly donations to Loza Foundation. Thanks to their support, Loza can invest in the future of these children and for Samira, which means she gets her very own bed for the first time in her life.
Samira and her family have begun a new chapter in their life, and the Loza support team will do everything they can to guide them towards a brighter future.
So far, 14 companies have chosen to partner up with Loza Foundation, focusing on UN’s Global Goal no.1, No Poverty. The purpose is to jointly help create a sustainable future for some of the poorest families in Europe. The collaboration that started in January will run throughout 2022.
“I am truly grateful that so many companies have chosen to join this venture against extreme poverty, and we can already present results and measures that the efforts of these companies have contributed to”, says Sabina Grubbeson, Secretary-General, Loza Foundation.
With the help of the 14 partner companies, Loza has already achieved several tangible results in the first three months of the year. A story worth highlighting is the story of six-year-old Samira and her family and how they, thanks to the Loza collaboration with companies, have been given their first fully-functioning home. Please click here to read about how six-year-old Samira gets a home.
Throughout the year, the companies entering this venture will be able to follow the Loza projects in North Macedonia and all the families involved. A short documentary will be recorded, where two of the families will tell the audience about their living conditions and their general situation at the beginning of the project. A sequel will be recorded towards the end of the year to show the effect and the result of the different efforts.
“Some of the companies contribute with more than just funding. For example, Shepherd donates transport, jackets and shoes from their manufacturing and has also managed a collection of children’s clothes and shoes, which were donated to the project. Vagabond has also donated shoes from their production. Having shoes is crucial for children to be able to go to school.”
“When we work with these families on their journey out of extreme poverty, we are always amazed by the motivation we witness when they are given the opportunity to change their situation and living conditions. Many of them have never been given such a chance before and can hardly believe it is true. It is fantastic to see them take a big step out of chaos and misery, and what an enormous difference it makes to the health and development of the children”, says Sabina Grubbeson.
The first of the UN’s Global Goals is No Poverty. The more people that can contribute, the quicker we can reach the goal. Working actively with CSR is nowadays perceived to strengthen a brand and increase credibility, which benefits the companies’ communication, and Sabina believes this to be the reason why more and more companies want to get involved.
Ever since the founder of Loza Foundation, Sabina Grubbeson, visited the institution in Demir Kapija in North Macedonia in 2016 and revealed that the living conditions were much worse than most people could imagine, the aim has been crystal clear for Sabina: All the residents should have a reasonable life with good living conditions. Now, five years later, with the help of Loza Foundation, the first disabled people can move out to the newly-built group homes where they will be able to start a new life with better living conditions, in freedom, with dignity and even with respect for their personal integrity.
”Even if Loza, for the last few years, have done everything we can to improve the living conditions for everyone at the Demir Kapija Institution, it is still an unacceptable environment for people to live in. So the fact that some of the residents can now move into a real home is truly amazing and a result of the hard work the project team has put in”, says Sabina Grubbeson, Secretary-General, Loza Foundation.
Today, slightly less than 200 people live at the institution. Before this Loza Foundation project is finished, the plan is for all these residents to have moved out into group homes. The residencies are built according to a Swedish model; five to six residents per house and qualified support staff on hand. The plan is to build a further seven group homes in the next twelve months, and that another 35 people will be able to leave the institution during 2022.
”Everyone has the right to a home. Media has in the past described Demir Kapija as an institution of horror, and here, disabled people with a variety of physical and psychological needs have been kept under lock and key. Many of them ever since they were children.“
The project is run by the Loza Foundation through fundraising and grants from an EU-project working to help future member states meet human rights requirements.
“Thanks to Loza’s advocacy and lobbying local authorities, we have managed to make an impact not just locally, but centrally on an EU-level too. North Macedonia has passed new laws, e.g. the citizens have the right to personal assistance. We rely on fundraising and at the upcoming charity event at Varbergs Stadshotell on 6 December, we hope to raise even more money for this project and spread the information of how individuals and companies can help us give the Demir Kapija residents a better, more dignified life.“
Since the residents have spent most of their lives at the institution, many of them are in very poor health and need physical and mental rehabilitation when moving into their new homes.
“Many of them cannot remember a life outside the walls of the institution, so even when their situation actually improves, the change itself can be perceived as a trauma. Therefore, preparing the residents for the move has to start a long time before they physically swap the institutional dorms for a home of their own and carry on for quite some time in the new group home. We can already see that the transition will lead to other needs for support and we are working continuously to raise funds for these requirements too”, Sabina explains.
Sabina founded Loza Foundation because of what she witnessed in 2016 when she visited Demir Kapija for the first time. The photos and reports revealed violations of human rights. These violations had been allowed to carry on, right in the heart of Europe, without any aid organisations realising, without any of the local authorities sounding the alarm nor the EU noticing. Thanks to Loza’s publicity measures, Swedish newspaper ‘Göteborgsposten’ and Swedish television station ‘TV4’ covered the story, and these reports got a lot of attention.
“International aid organisations have called Demir Kapija institution one of the worst institutions in Europe. Several global organisations that work with children’s rights have been involved in moving minors out of institutions, but very few work with disabled individuals’ rights regardless of their age. Loza was founded as I wanted it to be a platform for humanitarian aid, specifically working with disabled people and other vulnerable individuals living in some of the poorest countries in Europe. Today, the organisation is mainly working in North Macedonia”, says Sabina.
Over the last two years, the corona pandemic has had a negative impact on the project. It has been very difficult to implement the changes and measure as fast as we had hoped to and many of the delays have been incredibly frustrating.
“Now we have finally reached the first milestone, and it was a great pleasure to be there when the first few people could move into their new home. That was the day I had been waiting for since founding Loza Foundation and the day the residents of Demir Kapija had been waiting for for most of their life”, says Sabina Grubbeson, Secretary-General, Loza Foundation.
This is the story of the first year of the Loza project ”Families in extreme poverty”. A project that has already changed the lives of 45 children and their parents who, through most of their lives, have had to live in extreme situations of poverty and have been excluded from the rest of the society.
Whilst working hard trying to help the poorest, most vulnerable people in Europe, Loza Foundation founder Sabina Grubbeson has found that the path out of poverty starts by taking care of one’s basic needs. Only once the primary living conditions have been addressed, a family can start their journey out of poverty. Based on this insight and the new 2019 resolution of the UN, which encourages investments supporting vulnerable families instead of orphanages and institutions, the Loza project “Families in extreme poverty” was set in motion.
The project, which is financed solely by Loza Foundation, is aimed at enabling the poorest families of Europe to get out of the complex situation that extreme poverty really is. The project provides the families with new knowledge and skills, crucial for improving their living standards. By also fulfilling certain terms such as schooling and work, the families are granted access to a social relief program that builds new homes for particularly vulnerable children and their parents, with heating, water, washing facilities, which in turn becomes the linchpin of their new lives.
RESULTS IN BRIEF – WITH LONG-TERM EFFECTS
During the first year of this project, the living conditions and everyday situations of 45 children and 15 adults improved dramatically:
Five out of the adult family members have secured paid employment.
Nine children have been registered at a school for the very first time, and four more will be registered as soon as their paperwork is finalised.
Another fifteen children, already registered at school, have been monitored to ensure they attend the lessons and have the relevant textbooks, stationery and clothing fit for school.
All 60 of them, both adults and children, have been given ongoing support and guidance with:
Information on health and hygiene
Registration at and continued contact with the jobcentre/employment agency
Registration at and contact with social services
Support with the children’s education
BASIC REQUISITES ARE CRUCIAL FOR ONE’S SUCCESS
Some fundamental requisites must be met for people to have a fighting chance to escape extreme poverty. A personal identification number, for example, is imperative; otherwise, you cannot attend school. Running water to take care of one’s hygiene. Basic knowledge of food and nutrition, so that the few pennies you scrape together are not spent on cookies and cheap soda. A roof over your head and enough food for the day, so that you have the energy to go to school or, if you are an adult, to look for work or go to work.
For many of the poorest people of Europe in socially disadvantaged areas, these kinds of basic requirements are very far from their everyday lives. During last year, thanks to their patrons and partners, Loza Foundation has managed to develop a project that helps families to start their journey out of extreme poverty.
Definition of extreme poverty:
Extreme poverty is a concept introduced by the World Bank Group (WBG) that means that you have less than 16 SEK per person per day to live on. That is to include everything such as food, clothes, accommodation, heating, hygiene, medicine, dental care etc. This is not a temporary condition, but stretches across an extended period of time, and it turns into a downward spiral impossible to get out of. The families with ten children or more, which have been included in the Loza Foundation project, have a buying power of 50 SEK a day, which means they have 5 SEK per person per day to spend. An impossible calculation that puts the entire family on the brink of starvation.
A PILOT TO GUIDE PEOPLE OUT OF POVERTY
The objective of the Loza Foundation’s pilot project ”Families in extreme poverty” is to help families in North Macedonia find a way out of extreme poverty. This will be done as a combination of aid and mentorship. The project, for instance, shows a way to structure social security systems for vulnerable, disadvantaged people and is evaluated regularly to prove effects and results. The project was started in August 2020 as a joint venture with a local organisation called Dendo Vas. It is based on the UN resolution of 2019 that unanimously encourages member states to phase out existing institutions for children and instead invest in support for socially disadvantaged families. This first year, the project has involved eight families with 45 children in total.
The efforts of the first 12 months of this project have resulted in 45 children and 15 adults have been given practical measures, help and knowledge, which will serve them and assist them on their path to a better life. The project is 100 percent funded by Loza Foundation, and the aid efforts are carried out together with a local team. Thanks to this project, more vulnerable children can avoid being separated from their families, and a foundation can be built for a socially sustainable future, far away from poverty. Thanks to this project, particularly disadvantaged children can grow up in a safe environment with their parents and siblings, and a foundation can be built for a socially sustainable future – far away from poverty.
TARGETED EFFORTS HAVE AN IMMEDIATE EFFECT
Over the past year, the project has worked actively with eight socially disadvantaged and impoverished families, where the focus has been to build a long-term solution for self-sufficiency and increased independence. As early as September 2020, the hard work and gifts bore fruit as the first family in the framework of the project, a blind woman and her teenage daughter, could leave their chaotic life behind. They had lived in a shed that kept on being flooded every time there was a downpour, and each day was all about finding food. Today, the little family lives in a secure, safe house with heating and the daughter can go to school. One aid effort that has had life-changing and lasting results.
A SUCCESSFUL COMBINATION OF MENTORSHIP AND AID
For many families suffering from extreme poverty, small earnings from begging can be crucial when it comes to putting food on the table. The project utilises a combination of aid and mentorship with an aim to help the families find a way of permanently escaping their current situation. The families are given basic knowledge needed for everyday life, which gradually helps them make better choices for themselves. They can build new lives and eventually, once and for all, get out of the complex situation that extreme poverty sadly is.
Definition of ”the poverty trap” – hand to mouth
A person that has to beg to scrape together 50 SEK over the course of a day and also has to provide for a family with ten children does not have the time to look for work, nor can they wait for their salary until the end of the month should they land such a job. Extreme poverty is all about surviving one hour at a time, one day at a time. When you do not have accommodation, cannot read, do not have enough clothes to stay warm and suffer from poor hygiene, you cannot go to work or school. With nothing but a couple of coins in your pocket, it is practically impossible to change your situation and you are caught in a trap, which is often called the poverty trap. The Loza Foundation project is aimed at helping families to get out of that trap.
EDUCATION, KNOW-HOW, INFORMATION, SUPPORT AND GUIDANCE
Managing household finances or planning one’s grocery purchases definitely does not come naturally to people who have grown up in poverty. A crucial part of the project is aimed at educating people about hygiene, household finances, the importance of schooling and work, as well as social rights and obligations. As a result of this educational program, the families are getting better at hygiene, organising their household and planning the family’s economy. They are more aware of rights and obligations and have been given a better understanding of how to look for work. In many of the families, the parents cannot read or write, which is a prerequisite to receiving help and being supported in their contact with authorities. The task team has been involved here too, providing their help and support.
A LONG-TERM APPROACH TO ENSURE A BRIGHTER FUTURE
The first year of this project can only be described as a success. The work has carried on according to plan, despite the ongoing pandemic and thanks to an amazing task team that is genuinely committed to taking on one of the toughest challenges we have today; to fight poverty and alienation.
As year two of this project “Families in extreme poverty” is now being mapped out, Loza is planning efforts to create safe living conditions and to give the remaining 50 people included in the project basic requirements for food and better health. The goal is to build well-functioning homes for a further five families. To be able to do all this, Loza Foundation is starting up joint ventures where companies are invited to take part and build houses for the poorest children of Europe, and by doing that, they contribute to the Global Goals of the UN for sustainable development. We will primarily focus on goal no. 1 “No poverty” and goal no. 10 “Reduced inequalities”. There will be continued support for the families that have been with us from the start, but the hope is that these families will gradually become more and more independent so that Loza Foundation can phase in families in need into this project and help even more people out of extreme poverty.
Out of the seventeen UN Global Goals within the framework of Agenda 2030, number one aims to abolish extreme poverty once and for all. The abolishment of poverty is a requisite for a sustainable future for generations to come, which is why we all, jointly and globally, have to work hard to achieve this by 2030. Poverty is so much more than just a lack of money. It is also poor health, lack of education and empowerment, directly and indirectly linked to other goals such as goal no. 2 “Zero hunger”, goal no. 3 “Good health and well-being”, goal no. 4 “Quality education” and so on. The watchwords of these Global Goals are “Leave no one behind” and pledge to work for a society where no one is left behind. Read more about the Global Goals of the UN here.
TO HIGHLIGHT WHAT NO ONE WANTS TO SEE
Loza Foundation is determined to continue its work by involving the state and towns in North Macedonia even more and creating a project platform for a more overall, holistic approach. The long-term goal is to implement this kind of project in more towns and cities in North Macedonia, as well as to include other countries such as Kosovo, Bosnia and Moldavia, which according to the UN Human Development Index, are the poorest countries of Europe.
EVERYONE HAS A RIGHT TO HAVE A HOME
The right to have a home, or actually the lack of it, is not just about poverty. It is also about lack of freedom, influence, health, education and safety, which are also parameters defined in the UN Global Goals in the framework of Agenda 2030; No. 1 “No poverty”
Supporting development in accordance with the Global Goals of the UN is something that is highly prioritised within conscientious companies and on their agenda of corporate social responsibility. By working together with Loza Foundation, companies and individuals can contribute to and get involved in direct aid efforts without any middlemen, providing results and changing the lives of some of the poorest, most vulnerable people in Europe.
“It goes without saying that the children of this world are our future, and they are most vulnerable during their childhood years. It should also go without saying that no child should have to live in extreme poverty and deprivation”, says Sabina Grubbeson, Secretary-General, Loza Foundation.
Rättshaveri att papperslösa barn i Nordmakedonien nekas skolgång, det strider mot Barnkonventionens artikel 28. Loza Foundation kämpar för att lokala myndigheter ska agera, läs pressmeddelandet här: