Despite backbreaking work, a combination of tragic circumstances prevented Zoran Filimonović from providing the children with better living conditions. Today, in the village of Muhovo on the Golija Mountains, he cares for his five children and two of his late brother’s children. They live in a couple of damp rooms in a rundown house and are forced to ask for help!
Zoran was already in his forties when he got married. Girls from Serbia did not even think of coming to his village, 30 kilometres from Novi Pazar. That is how he found his wife, Špresa, from the Scodra area, who didn’t mind moving to a remote, mountain village.
While my brother was alive, we had 20-30 head of cattle, and we worked in agriculture. He did most of the heavy work, and our parents supported us. However, in a short time, a couple of years ago, our mother and father died, and then I lost my brother. Fate played with me and I couldn’t manage to cope – Zoran said as he started his story.
Even though he works as an assistant worker in a school, and keeps some cows and cultivates the land, life is hard and he struggles to feed the children. There is no chance they will soon have money to complete the house. Zoran and Špresa, along with Ivana (7), Milodarka (6), Ivan (5), Milica (4), Martin (3), Zoran’s sister-in-law Divna, Nikola (19) and Nikolina (17), are currently sentenced to black, moldy walls and cold nights.
Conditions are really harsh. Winters here are long and because of the snow, we are cut off from the world. Ivana is a first grader, and in the winter had to climb over obstacles bigger than her – says mother Špresa.
Their never-finished home is reached by crossing an old wooden bridge. They are surrounded by natural beauty where one can hear the sound of the flowing village stream. But we discovered some unbelievable information – the seven of them sleep in one room, on two falling apart couches and one mattress. They do not have enough space or closets, so they keep their clothes on the floor.
Entrance to the house is through a door with a broken glass, that has been patched with an old jacket. One has to push to enter the living room, as the handle to the door has fallen off, and at the table one sits on chairs that fall apart when touched.
It’s very cold when sleeping – add the children.
However, they say they like where they are and would never want to leave. They spend their days playing in the fields. The liveliest is little Milica who jokingly says: “I’m not going, I’m running.” Her oldest sister, Nikolina, who goes to high school in Novi Pazar, is an excellent student. This smart girl touched us with her modesty:
I would like to enroll in university to become part of the military or to go to Kamenica to join the police. Of course, that is if finances allow.
For her, they receive a small child allowance and her father’s pension, while Zoran’s family, unfortunately, does not qualify even for child allowance.
We have 27 hectares of land, so we have no right to help. Believe me, there are more hills than flat land. We have maybe seven-eight hectares of arable land, and the rest is pasture and forests – Zoran explains.
Thanks to the readers of Vesti and Mr. Hida Muratović, the Filimonovićs recently received groceries, clothing and toys. The words of seven year old Ivana show how little it takes to make these children happy:
Thank you, sir, for coming today and bringing us everything.
It is now the Charity organization Serbs for Serbs’ turn to try to get this suffering family as much help as possible:
It is with heavy hearts that we have decided to appeal for help. Most important for us is to clean up the house, and to rid the children of their worries. Current living conditions are truly inhumane. The idea is to finish the ground floor for the seven of us, while this small floor would be for Divna and her children. Our hope is to have at least two rooms where the children can study in peace and where we could all sleep – says Zoran.
We invite all good people to show their support by donating to this fundraiser and fulfilling the young Filimonovićs’ wishes of having a warm room!
Here is how you can donate: