National Finance Director SOS Children's Villages in Serbia
photo: © 2018 Stefan Lechner Photography
The Beginning of SOS Children’s Villages Serbia. A Look Back
Last year, with a few colleagues, I attended the celebration of 25 years of the SOS Children's Villages in a neighbouring country. The celebration was brightened with the ring’s ceremony for SOS mothers and a special program that colleagues prepared. In one part of the program a film was shown about the development of that SOS Children's Village, where colleagues from various departments told their stories and shared their feelings.
Looking at the film, I started recording of my own film in my mind, wandering into the past, comprehending the present and imagining the future of SOS Children's Villages Serbia.
Personal Experiences in SOS Children’s Villages
The story began in 2004 with a few of us. In 2005, we got the first child, the first moments of happiness and great expectations. Some of us were not able to deal with the challenges and they left SOS Children's Villages Serbia. Some of us have been strengthened and focused and we developed ourselves on a personal and professional level. Some of us have realized that SOS Children’s Villages Serbia has the potential to grow and we “rolled up our sleeves” and bravely went into the development of the organization. In my film, my colleagues would say the following:
"I have fresh memories about establishing the local entity, the SOS Children’s Village in Kraljevo. With a lot of emotions, we decorated family houses until the first SOS mother came. She redecorated it all. I remember the accommodation of the first children, the first graduation, the first marriage, the first grandchild and the first ten years working in one SOS Children’s Village. At the end of 2013 we got our first public grant and from that moment we became active on the territory of the whole Republic of Serbia, establishing the new local entity: the National Office in the capital city, Belgrade. I am grateful for the fact that dedicated and hard-working people surround me. Everyone’s desire is to protect, support and strengthen as many children and young people through regular and alternative programs. Each of us is a fundraiser. We make our own steps towards self-financing. All of us are responsible in usage of the entrusted assets and money. All of us have the possibility of working in a good environment and with the latest technology. I am happy that SOS Children’s Villages Serbia is one of youngest Member Associations with great potential. In my role of the director, I am giving the best from my side to lead the organization."
National Director of Program Development
“SOS Children's Villages Serbia accommodated the first children in April 2005 .Three beautiful boys found their place in the family house “Birch” in the SOS Children's Village Kraljevo. Currently, we are taking care about more than 100 children and young people in the Children's Village Kraljevo, in the youth programme and in the semi-independent living program.
Every child has a story in itself, with its potentials and fears, with its desires and abilities and with its will and resilience. Since 2014, we have worked with families at risk and provided financial, psychological, medical and educational support for more than 700 beneficiaries. We started with youth employment projects and we plan to strengthen 300 of them by the end of the year in various ways. We reacted quickly in 2015, during the refugee crisis, and helped thousands of children and young people through various activities that we carried out with them and their parents.
We are currently developing other forms of alternative care and we are actively working on service licensing. I am so proud that I am working in an organization in which the priority is the wellbeing of children, young people and other beneficiaries."
Human Resource Manager
"I am pleased that every employee is aware that facilities and equipment do not make the organization, but the people themselves. Each of us deeply believes that we are doing a great job, no matter if we are delivering services to beneficiaries in a location or if we are doing office work. We invest in people, we care about them and that is why we have more and more employees. If we have issues we do not run away, we are problem-solving oriented and we are devoted to the vision and mission of SOS Children’s Villages.
In comparison with my previous jobs in profit organizations, I am surprised with the passion that employees have, one that is not money-driven. SOS mothers live with their children in family houses. They create a positive movement with children and they are doing their best to avoid all constraints in raising children. Our organization is unique and well known as an organization that is taking care of staff."
"If we go back to 2004, to our beginning, we started with zero local revenue. Slowly we started promoting the vision of SOS Children's Villages and now we are intensively working on visibility and recognition of the brand. We activate various channels to raise funds, from the individual to corporates and from government grants to public funds. For us, there are no borders and our goal is to achieve 100% self-financing until 2024. As the youngest team we are aware that we should learn from the stories of the older colleagues and to transfer them to donors with the same passion of those colleagues who told these stories to us. We are increasing the number of friends of Children’s Villages Serbia and see the trend of commitment donators increasing. We are launching the individual giving campaign with the strong belief that we will achieve our goals. We are proud of all approved project proposals. For example we received funds from main public donors in Europe and the world, such as UNICEF, Mercy Corps, the European Commission, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development-BMZ, ADRA, embassies and more."
"Everything that my colleagues are doing in any single field, from programming to fundraising, from employment of staff to promotion of the organization, from strategic planning of actions to purchasing milk for the child in the village, from maintenance and administration to managing, from beginning to the end, all of this must be recorded in finance. All records must be transparent and entered in reports. All reports, procedures and documents need to be checked by the internal control and external audit units. Everything should be saved in paper and electronic form. All the time finance, administrative and maintenance employees are to be at the disposal of all beneficiaries, staff, donors and other stakeholders. Everyone can count on us, colleagues and beneficiaries, donors and vendors, state and other NGOs. We can rely on each other. We will try to stay focused on the content, to think outside of the box, to give support at the right time and to respond to all donor requests.
In 2004, a few of us shared one computer and an office of nine square meters and now all of us have a laptop. New technologies connect us and make the job easier. Many tasks have to be done but we are one brave team working in one brave organization."
The Future of SOS
That would be my film about SOS Children’s Villages Serbia: A collection of messages from colleagues in key positions interwoven with footage of children and young people in our care from various locations.
One moment takes me into the near past and distant future. I am in the year when we have more beneficiaries, employees and local income and when we achieve self-financing. In the year when we are able to say: “We were some of the key people who helped in the development of SOS Children's Villages Serbia.” In that a year when we will proudly continue to take the “SOS” in heart and soul and transmit our knowledge and observations to younger colleagues.
We are on the right track and in the right organization and with our synergy, we are contributing to the movement and progress of SOS.
Finance Director at SOS Children’s Villages Serbia
Vesna has been told she does not look like someone who works in finance. How does someone who works in finance look like? She sees financial workers as service providers who need to be able to work in synergy, provide trust and a professional approach, a laughter and good black coffee. She has worked for SOS Children’s Villages in Serbia since 2005.
Vesna is the eldest in a happy family, and is married with three daughters. Her family gives her great strength and support every day, and she feels like she is part of the SOS family as well. She can come to her job every day with great energy, feeling that she is going from one family to another, and her job is also a way of life.
In her free time, Vesna surrounds herself with family, friends, and goes on walks with her puppy. She enjoys travelling and meeting new people, and cooking for those who come to visit. She also likes to read and watch movies and series.
Serbia has over 7,000,000 residents. The capital city is Belgrade, which has a rich cultural history. Serbian words like “vampire” have been adopted by many world languages, and the beautiful White Angel fresco from Mileseva Monastery is famous worldwide.
Video Harvesting Workshop 2018