The Demir Kapija institution in North Macedonia is being refurbished

The work that Loza Foundation carries out coupled with the article in the Swedish Newspaper Göteborgs-Posten was a real eye-opener for the Minister of Social Welfare.

The correspondent trip to Institution Demir Kapija in North Macedonia turned into a series of articles in Göteborgs-Posten, which highlighted poor conditions and invoked strong reactions not least within Macedonian authorities that have now decided that the institution is to be refurbished immediately.

“This is proof that our work really does make a difference”, says Sabina Grubbeson, founder of Loza Foundation.

In  January 2019, Sabina Grubbeson travelled to North Macedonia with a reporter team from Göteborgs-Posten with an aim of telling the rest of the world about the unbelievable deprivation that the disabled people at the institution in Demir Kapija has to cope with. The result is the article series called “This is where the weakest in Europe live in deprivation“, which has attracted a lot of attention and is nominated to Wendelapriset 2019 (the Wendela award) for the best social report of the year.

The Macedonian authorities are reacting too. Minister of Social Welfare, Mila Carovska, tells Göteborgs-Posten that the series of articles was a definite eye-opener and that they will start renovation work straight away, tackling the toilets, damaged flooring, installing proper lighting as well as repairing internal and external walls.

Sabina Grubbeson, founder of Loza Foundation, is both pleased with and relieved by this decision.

“This will improve the living conditions considerably for these people. It has been difficult for us to help as the needs have been vast and we have not been given permission to renovate. The new situation will give us breathing space and allow us to take care of the most pressing needs”, she explains.

Read more: Article series about the Loza Foundation and the forgotten Europe in Swedish newspaper Göteborgs-Posten

The lack of fully-functioning toilets has meant that the residents at the institution have relieved themselves on the floor, in the dorms and stairwells.

“Refurbishing floors, walls, doors and windows will make it easier to keep the institution clean. There will not be a constant draught and the heat will remain inside the building during the winter. Making the electric installations secure and putting up lighting will also drastically improve the situation for both residents and staff members. In the past, they have had problems with ceiling fires and water leakage that has travelled down electric wires and ended up inside the fuse box.”

The renovation work is supposed to be finished in the latter part of 2019.

Sabina clarifies: “Thanks to the renovations, we will now be able to provide the residents with clothes and personal hygiene articles in an environment and not be afraid they will be ruined in the poor conditions. The donated items will last and will work. Refurbishing the institution will also have a positive impact on the staff. They will be able to work in more humane conditions, which in turn will have a ripple effect when it comes to how they care and treat the residents.”

In a couple of weeks, Loza Foundations plans to deliver individual lifts to the institution at Demir Kapija. Right now it takes two, sometimes three people to get a resident out of bed, which means many of the individuals living at the institution have never even made it out of bed.

“We want to make this work so that residents, despite disabilities, will have freedom. I have questioned why the state does not supply lifts to the institution, but I have not been given any answers. The problem is most probably linked to administrational issues, e.g. that such a purchase ends up between the separate jurisdictions of two ministers, in this case, the Social Ministry and the Ministry for Health and Healthcare, and that no one has put their foot down in this matter. All too often, this is where the problem arises; someone has to defend the human rights and highlight the needs of the people that are unable to defend and stand up for themselves. ”

Read more: 400 pairs of shoes arrived in Macedonia!

The idea is also to change one or two rooms where the sole focus will be rehabilitation.

“We have found the residents and the staff to have a need to arrange their day around something, to do something together which inspires everyone to treat each other with caring warmth. I hope this will lead to more positivity and inspiration.”

The renovation of Institution Demir Kapija will enable Loza to improve the residents’ living conditions this year, rather than having to wait. That said, the foundation still needs further donations in order to give everyone the help they need.

“We rely on contributions and donations to maintain our aid work. I, therefore, want to encourage everyone, individuals as well as companies, to sign up for our monthly donation package. A small sum of money every month might not make all that much of a difference for us in a welfare state, but for a person in North Macedonia, it could literally mean the world”, says Sabina Grubbeson.

The news of the refurbishment at Demir Kapija gives Loza Foundation new strength and energy to carry on defending the basic, human rights of individuals at institutions and orphanages in regions such as North Macedonia, Bosnia and other countries in Europe.

“This proves that you can change the world by creating support, lobbying and strengthening the belief that every single one of us can impact and improve the lives of other humans if we stick together. I am very impressed by Evalis Björk and photographer Robin Aron at Göteborgs-Posten, who spoke up for the individuals that do not have a voice and conveyed the situation of the residents at Demir Kapija with such empathy.”

Institutionen Demir Kapija i Nordmakedonien
 Dirty, non-functioning toilet, but this room is still being used by the residents. Special institution Demir Kapija in Macedonia.

They will bike 2500 km for Loza Foundation and the most vulnerable people in Europe

From Skopje, North Macedonia, to Varberg, Sweden, on two wheels:

The charity event Cycle4Europe will bike from Skopje in North Macedonia to Varberg on the Swedish west coast. The goal is to raise money for the Loza Foundation, that works for vulnerable people in the “forgotten” Europe.

– I have dreamed of this for years, it’s great that it finally happens, says Sabina Grubbeson, founder of Loza Foundation.

The start is in Skopje, the North Macedonian capital, on September 6. On September 19 the cyclists will arrive in Varberg on the west coast of Sweden. Cycle4Europe is an iniative from Sabina Grubbeson, founder of Loza Foundation, and the company BEWiSynbra. The Cycle4Europe will ride approximately 2500 kilometers through some of the poorest countries in Europe to raise awareness and money to the Loza Foundation and their work for vulnerable people in the “forgotten” Europe. It will be possible to follow the journey through both Loza Foundation and BEWiSynbra’s social media channels during the ride.

– Our work is totally dependent on getting money through gifts and contributions from businesses and people. This gives us the opportunity to raise awareness and form public opinion also outside Sweden, says Sabina Grubbeson.

BEWiSynbra finances the event and participates with its own bicycle team, Team BEWiSynbra. Every year they support a number of good causes. Last year Team BEWiSynbra cycled 900 kilometers to support cancer research, but they have never biked this far.

– Our company stands for environmental sustainability. Now we want to be part of Loza Foundation’s work for social sustainability. What they do to help vulnerable people is amazing och this is our way to support it, says Christian Larsson, head of marketing and communication at BEWiSynbra.

The start in Skopje is symbolic as Loza Foundation works with children and teenagers here. Through the children’s homes “25 May” and “11 October” boys and girls get support for security, clothes and hope for the future.

– Children who doesn´t have family support are particularly vulnerable in the poorest parts of Europe. We aim to meet every child’s needs, build self esteem and improve their future, says Sabina Grubbeson.

Apart from the two children’s homes in Skopje, Loza Foundation supports projects for disabled people in both North Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. They also work with traumatized women and children, who still live in the many refugee camps in Bosnia-Herzegovina, 20 years after the war ended.

– We believe in long term commitment and work and we will follow these people for years to ensure that they get the help they need, says Sabina Grubbeson.

She hopes that Cycle4Europe will help Loza Foundation reach their target of raising 1.5 million SEK this year.

– That’s the sum we need to do the projects we have planned and handle those we have started. We really hope that many more want to be part of Cycle4Europe where we raise awareness about the most vulnerable people in Europe. Together we can create a brighter future for those who have lost hope.


If you want to support and be part of Cycle4Europe contact Sabina Grubbeson at (+46) 733-213 823, for more information.

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