Botrstvo, a sponsorship scheme that has made a difference for thousands of children

Ljubljana – Ten years ago, a youth charity launched a programme to let sponsors help children in need. It has since raised EUR 21 million in donations, benefiting almost 11,000 children and youth.

The sponsorship scheme called Botrstvo v Sloveniji is being run by the Ljubljana Moste-Polje section of the Friends of Youth Association (ZPMS) with the help of its media sponsor, Val 202 channel of public broadcaster Radio Slovenija.

To raise awareness about child poverty and growing inequality, Val 202 has been running moving stories told by children and youths involved in the programme and promoting fundraising campaigns.

The scheme has been an important “social corrective”, something that became even more obvious during the Covid-19 pandemic when the distress of many deepened.

Last year alone, 5,363 sponsors helped 6,033 children from across Slovenia, the largest numbers yet, the charity said in a release marking the 10th anniversary of Botrstvo.

The charity and the donors adapted to help out with remote schooling during the lockdown by distributing computers and internet access packages, and helping students hurt by dorm closures.

The programme founder and head of the supervisory board, Milena Štular, says one of the reasons for trust and support from the sponsors and donors is that they run on low costs, which represented less that 6% of all revenue last year.

Despite the challenges posed by Covid, two new projects were launched last year, including one in conjunction with the Slovenian Olympic Committee that is sponsoring talented young athletes – this year 96 are getting scholarships.

Anita Ogulin, the head of the ZPM Ljubljana Moste-Polje, says they will work hard to mitigate the fallout from the pandemic in the future while linking with schools and other education institutions.

“We are in for hard work as the consequences of the epidemic and the measures related to it will stay with children for a long time. We shouldn’t shut our eyes to the problem,” said Ogulin.

To mark the 10th anniversary, an exhibition will be displayed at the atrium of Ljubljana Town Hall between 11 and 27 May to offer a glimpse of how Botrstvo has changed life for the better for many.

The latest data from the Statistics Office shows 41,000 children live below poverty line in Slovenia.