Blog: Nest model, back to where it all began. ICDI’s director visit in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Blog by Mathijs Euwema

“Some years ago the ‘Nest model: a Home Away from Home’ was developed in Bosnia and Herzegovina by ICDIKinderpostzegels and IN Foundation. In essence, the NEST approach aims to build safe, stable places for children coming from difficult backgrounds.

Last week I had the pleasure to take part in a working visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina – together with our partner organizations Stichting De Vrolijkheid and Kinderpostzegels – and visited five of the fourteen Nest centres currently operational in the country, on a trip excellently organized by IN Foundation.

Nest, as a programme, has been close to my – and ICDI’s – heart for a long time now. I have been involved in the Nest model from its inception, contributing to training, research and the international handbook. So for me, personally and professionally, this trip was a beautiful and touching experience. It was an amazing opportunity to re-experience how powerful and meaningful the Nest approach can be for children in vulnerable circumstances.

Although the Bosnian war ended almost 25 years ago, the scars that divide the country remain clearly visible. Coupled with dire socio-economic circumstances this leads to many problems, including domestic violence, depression and drug and alcohol abuse. Once again I could see how the Nest centres form a kind of “lifeline” for the communities: places where children can feel safe and can enjoy a creative, stimulating environment.

The director of IN Foundation, Branka Ivanovic, has been overseeing the coordination of the Nest programme for the past ten years. For me it was really impressive and inspiring to see how the local teams – staff and volunteers – create spaces of hope and support for children growing up in often very difficult circumstances. I was also pleased to see that the colleagues of Stichting De Vrolijkheid found our trip very valuable. It gave them new and useful insights for their work with Nest in refugee centres in The Netherlands”.