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Bojan met his partner Asya when they both lived in the Dom Porodica Institution. Since they have left they have had a baby girl, Emili, who lives with them in Zenica.

Bojan and his two younger siblings were placed in the institution in 2004 when Bojan was 14. Their father abandoned the family and moved abroad and there was no one else to look after them. His mother had abandoned the family a few years earlier.

Bojan is from a Roma family that had moved around a lot and upon arrival in the institution it was clear that none of the children had been to school but were all keen to learn.

Despite the resourcefulness they had learnt as children, like many young adults leaving care, Bojan found it difficult to adjust to independent life.

“Life after the orphanage was hard. I was lost. I had no job and no papers.”

Many young adults leave institutions at 18 years old with poor educational achievement and a lack of life skills meaning it is hard for them to find a job and the cycle of poverty and disadvantage that resulted in them being institutionalised is perpetuated. Young adult support services help them develop key life skills, support them to find work and help them to adjust to life in a family when they have their own children – preventing them from turning to institutions.

The prospect of fatherhood came as a shock to Bojan who had never had to be responsible for anyone but himself. He found it difficult to accept at first and shied away from the responsibility. As well as helping Bojan find a job to support his family, the service run by an NGO helped him to understand his responsibilities and navigate family life.

“For me, I didn’t have much family, but now I am a parent I need to save this family and give us a better future. For me it’s the most important thing.”