The deeds of mercy have always been highly esteemed merits in the social scale of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Unfortunately, the last war in the country superseded the basics of humanity. It was the time when people of BH started their fundamental struggle for survival that, in some cases, exposed elements of inhumanity and dishonesty. Yet the humanism prevailed, even in the most difficult moments. It gave a ray of hope that there was no dark force that could deprive the most valuable human qualities.
In such severe times, when the value of food was as high as the value of medicaments, two humanists, Rudić Salem and his spouse Hatidža, established the Humanitarian Organization «Ruhama». The main objective was to help socially most handicapped population, the old and disable people. The main reason for making a decision to devote their life to a care for the old and sick people was the death of their old neighbour, who was a proud and dignified person hardly being able to ask for help. This sad event was the first signal to the Rudics to open their hearts and start helping people in need.
The Humanitarian Organization «Ruhama» was founded in the war year 1993, and was immediately registered by the High Court Zenica as non-governmental, non-political, democratic, non-profitable organization. Therefore, it is necessary to mention that the Organization has been functioning for ten years now. During this period, its staff provided 1.750.000 visits and services to clients of, and thus saved thousands lives.
It was the time when hundreds of young aged between 12 and 22 opened the doors of their friendship and charity for the old and disable people who were abandoned by their families. We all together helped them to overcome the crisis and to become aware that there were still people to take care of them. Each volunteer was responsible for ten people. Regardless the weather conditions, and sometimes even risking their own lives in the period of armed fights, these young people were delivering food to our patients from one part of town to another. They were also helping the clients with the house-works that included a distribution of fire-wood, house cleaning, making dishes, and other services required in moment. The health care was undertaken by our expert medical teams, which used to do medical checks, prescribe therapies and apply the latter in the houses of patients. The nursing teams were maintaining hygiene of patients and of environment where they lived.
Very close ties and confidence that arouse between our young volunteers and the old beneficiaries of their services has always been a key point of a successful work of “Ruhama”, and that is what our most important project, the “Home Care” Project, is based on.
The “Home Care” Project was made, and has been implemented for years now, with the only one objective – to help every person who has requested it, or has been in need for help, regardless his national, cultural, or social background. The main power of the Project has been the mobile team consisted of 240 volunteers. This team started its activities without any financial support but has never stopped providing the patients with necessary aid. People of different ages and educational background – high school students, doctors, medical technicians, social workers, psychologists, and others who have hot spared their time and efforts to help other people – joined this team.
The carriers of the “Home Care” project, with its health – hygienic – humanitarian programme, have carried out their activities in the Main Office of “Ruhama”, as well as the houses of the patients. These activities are divided into as to different programmes:
Medical Programme – includes medical care of patients, medical examinations, laboratory tests, ECG checks, changing catheters, bandaging of decubital wounds, giving injections, etc. As to the registry books of “Ruhama”, there have been 382.000 medical services provided in the last ten years.
Maintenance of Hygiene Programme – includes maintaining of personal hygiene of the patients, nursing, bathing, changing clothes, feeding, doing hair cut and shaving, maintaining of hygiene of the rooms where patients live, doing laundry (washing and ironing). As to the registry books of “Ruhama”, there have been 397.200 medical services provided in the last ten years.
Humanitarian Programme – includes a distribution of humanitarian aid (3000 tons so far, in average). The items mainly delivered are: nutrition goods, hygienic kits, clothes, shoes, bed linens, blankets, fire-wood, stoves, disposable grills, sanitary sets, etc. As to the registry books of “Ruhama”, there have been 894.420 medical services provided in the last ten years. Not only that “Ruhama” has helped the old people and children with special needs but has helped different institutions in the town, non-governmental organizations, citizens associations, etc.
Additional Programme – includes the transport of patients to hospital for dialysis, chemo-therapy, or to the administration institutions like bank or post office, if necessary. This Program also includes the services provided by handyman, social worker, and volunteers. In total, there are 91.380 old people provided with the services mentioned in the programmes of “Ruhama”.
In order to implement each of the listed programmes properly we established four mobile teams:
Team of cleaning ladies;
Team of volunteers.
“Ruhama” has provided these teams with necessary equipment like: vacuum cleaners, irons, washing and drying machines, equipment pieces for barber’s services, newest equipment for laboratory services. The vehicles that the Organization had, or still has, at disposal are: 1 Land Rower; 1 Lada, 1 ambulance car, 1 Nissan Jeep, 1 Golf, 1 Opel Cadet, etc.
However, we do not want to keep our job static but we are going to struggle in order to expand our activities, and to provide our teams with better working conditions so that they could improve the quality of services they give to the patients.
As the awards for all its efforts in the field of humanitarian activities conducted with a big support of UNHCR, “Ruhama” was registered, in 1995, in the List of the World Humanitarian Organizations. Besides, it got different letters of recognitions for its work from the Federal Ministries, local, state and international institutions, two of which are the “Plaque of Zenica” given by the Municipal authorities, and the other one was given to the Rudics who were declared the “Persons of the Year” in Zenica.
Due to improve their skills and knowledge referring to the humanitarian work, Rudić Salem and Hatidža, as well as the other members of HO “Ruhama”, participated in 120 seminars and educative programmes that were held in several countries of Europe and the United States. Many International Organizations gave their financial support to “Ruhama”, as to the recommendation of UNHCR and the Caritas International. This is also the sign that “Ruhama” has always been considered as respectable and professional organization not only in our country but in the world. Last year, “Ruhama” became a member of the Innovative Forum of the organizations working on the home care projects, in the Central and East Europe.
The work of the Organization is open to public. All documents on our activities, received donations, distribution of humanitarian aid, visits of doctors or volunteers to the patients, visits of the local or state authority members, and visits of the representatives of humanitarian organizations, are kept in our registry book. Besides, “Ruhama” has its own video-archives. Every year, we send periodical and annual reports, as well as the reports of the International Revision Control made once a year, to the Main Office of UNHCR in Geneve.
Finally, certainly not the least important, in the last 10 years “Ruhama” has been supported by many International Organizations: UNHCR, EQUILIBRE, IRC, NPA, World Wision, MDM, WHO, UNICEF, AICF, MSF, PSF, BRIKE, UMCOR, Cross Roads, Mensen in Nood, World Church Service, Caritas International, CIZLE Italy, etc. The true friend of our organization have been people of Turkey, Germany, Dutch SFOR, Dutch Embassy, Canadian Embassy, our friends Andre and Mara, Stefan and Mary. Some time ago, few private companies from Zenica (Agroekonomik Zenica) also took a part in humanitarian programme.
The final goal “Ruhama” is still not defined. However, we are doing our best to achieve the main objective of the organization, and that is to HELP PEOPLE IN NEED. There are still some plans for a future work of “Ruhama”. The main idea is to build the Geriatric Centre where the health-hygienic services would be provided in one place and would be based on the principles of democracy, voluntarism and humanity.