Three-year-old Nikolina Ristic lives in a dilapidated home in Aleksinacki Rudnik. In 1989, a tragedy befell this town when a fire claimed the lives of 90 miners. Along with the loss of lives came the end of the mine, leaving the people abandoned and with no prospect for the future.
When one visits the town today, it is an eerie experience that sends chills to the soul. It is as if the place is empty save for animals. To see shy little Nikolina in these surroundings with her toys, seems surreal.
Welcome to our home. It is seldom that anyone comes. Nikolina has four brothers: Mihajlo (5), Viktor (8), Nemanja (14) and Nebojsa (17) , tells us father Sladjan.
Sometimes life shows no mercy
Alongside memories of the tragedy which occurred in the area, the Ristic family has dealt with its own personal tragedy. Sometimes life shows no mercy.
Sladjan doesn’t like to talk about it. His son from his first marriage mysteriously disappeared 8 years ago, only to be found after two months of agonizing searches, dead in the river. He was only 11 years old and went to a special school. I was a single mother with three children, but he [Sladjan] welcomed us and accepted my children as his own. He is a good man. We now have 2 children together, mother Marija told us.
The Ristic family subsists on social assistance and children’s allowance. The oldest son, though still a minor, went to Belgrade to make some money working in construction.
Unfortunately, a concrete mixer fell on me while at work. Since then, due to pain, I cannot lift heavy objects, although I would like to get involved in recycling. Now I get by the best that I can, occasionally cutting wood and such. It appears that I have a serious illness, but we have yet to determine what it is, said Srdjan.
“I most like playing with my brothers”
We asked the youngest, Nikolina, what she most liked to play with, and she whispered:
“I most like sleeping with my dolls and playing with my brothers.”
The Charity Organization Serbs for Serbs plans to help the Ristic family. We plan to purchase insulation for their home and organize the rooms, so that Nikolina and her brothers will have decent living conditions while growing up.
Here is how you can help the Ristic family:
Donation platform (VISA, Mastercard…): http://www.srbizasrbe.org/donacije/