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KOSOVO SUNRISE…

 

 

This most recent humanitarian effort has yielded the following:

- 15 beds (51,840 dinars + 720 euros)

- 4 refrigerators (18,800 dinars + 375 euros)

- 6 washing machines (105,400 dinars + 520 euros)

- 2 sinks (9,720 dinars)

- 16 chairs (8,640 dinars + 216 euros)

- 1 wood-burning oven (180 euros)

- 1 vacuum cleaner (60 euros)

- 10 blankets (100 euros)

- 22 books (5,367 dinars + 30 euros)

- Housing fees for three students (300 euros)

- 11 packets of sweets and candy (5,850 dinars)

- 5 bags of toys, clothing and small household items

- 10 kilograms Aleve pepper for everyday cooking (6,600 dinars)

 

Expenses:

- Transportation for 5 representatives from Belgrade – 10,280 dinars

- Housing in Zvecan for 4 representatives – 3,300 dinars

 

 

The five representatives of Serbs for Serbs arrived on holy Serbian land in the early morning hours of Saturday, January 15, 2011 and were greeted by representatives of NVO ‘Mother of Nine Jugovica’. Upon brief consultations and planning regarding the visiting of Serb families, they departed for their first destination, Novo Brdo. On route they stopped by Monastery Gracanica, one of the holiest Serbian Orthodox monasteries. Following their short visit they were welcomed by representatives of Radio ‘KiM’ from Caglavice with whom they discussed their agenda before continuing on their journey.

 

 

 

The campaign officially began in the village of Jasenovik in St. Sava grade school, which is a specific school in that it serves both Albanian and Serbian children. Albanian children have classes in the afternoon on the first floor and Serbian children have classes on the second floor in the morning. Upon arriving, plenty of children, villagers, teachers and the school principal are already awaiting us in front of the school. The schoolyard is full of smiles, the clamor of children and happiness at our arrival. It is difficult to explain how our visit alone is cause for great joy to the children and people of the Kosovo-Metohija enclaves. Quite simply, it is difficult to understand unless one experiences it directly. In the school’s facilities, lined with all twenty-four little ones from first to eighth grade, we distribute packages prepared by NVO ‘Mother of Nine Jugovica’. Following our brief interaction with the children and school personnel, we continue our mission with their heartfelt farewells.

 

 

 

 

The first family we visited was the Zlatanic family from the village of Bostan. The family consists of two sisters and their brother who, are in a difficult mental state and who, through the help of their neighbors and the soup kitchen in Prekovac, manage to survive. We helped this family two years ago with the purchase of a wood-burning oven. This time we have purchased a bed and washing machine for them with the hope that it will lessen their strife at least a little.

 

 

The next family on our itinerary is the Milic family from Prekovca. This family consists of husband and wife, Vitomir and Leposava and their twelve-year old son, Stefan. Even though they live in poverty they have nevertheless taken in a single mother, Miljana and her two-month old daughter, Anastasia, who have been outcast by her family. The Milic family is managing to survive thanks to meals from a nearby soup kitchen. They have shown great humanity in taking in Miljana and Anastasia as if they were their own. For this noble household we have donated a bed, kitchen sink and refrigerator. Little Stefan received books on Orthodox themes and several toys.

 

 

Our journey continues taking us to the village of Zebnice and to the Simjonovic family. The family consists of Dragan, the father and Jelena, the mother of two little girls named Andela (3 yrs.) and Andrijana (9 mos.). This extraordinary family possibly made the strongest impression on us. The young married couple quite simply refuses to succumb to the circumstances life has dealt them. On the road to their cottage, which dates back to the early twentieth century, we encountered hard-working Dragan and his herd of sheep (currently their greatest wealth aside from their daughters). In our conversation with them we learned that they are surviving on modest social assistance. They are hindered by their difficult living conditions in particular because they are not the owners of their dilapidated abode but rather pay a rental fee of 200 Euros a year to Dragan’s uncle, the owner, for a “satisfactory” dwelling built in the early 1900’s. Dragan has a great desire to further his work with livestock and wants help in the meantime with the purchase of additional sheep in order to expand his herd. 

 

 

Through a consultation with the representatives of ‘Mother  of Nine Jugovica’, it was decided that they would assist with that aspect of aiding the family and we would provide a washing machine, bed, sink and for the youngest ones packages of toys and sweets. With words of support and encouragement, we bid farewell to this hard-working family and continue to the village of Straza.

 

 

In Straza we visited the Stojanovic family; father, Gradislav and mother, Biserka and their four sons, Milos (21 yrs.), Igor (20 yrs.), Stefan (18 yrs.) and Aleksandar (12 yrs.).

While the Milic family amazed us with their big hearts, the Simjonovic family with their persistence, sadly this family left a bitter taste in our mouths, a lump in our throats and eyes on the verge of tears. The mother and father are in difficult psychological and physical states and their sons even worse. Instead of being full of life and flourishing through various athletic activities, socializing with girls and finding first loves and crushes, empowered by knowledge and planning their own families, with great misfortune they are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder from the NATO bombings of 1999. They live their pain-filled lives inside four walls. The only ray of light is the youngest son, Aleksandar who, alone cares for the family’s two cows. The one in deepest despair is Igor, who doesn’t get out of bed. We aim to ease their profound struggles with the purchase of four beds, a washing machine and four chairs.

 

 

The last family we visited in the Novo Brdo township was the Vasic family from the village of Koretiste; father Stanko, mother Zorica and their children Milos (19 yrs.), Bojan (17 yrs.), Katarina (8 yrs.) and Marina (5 yrs.). We caught up with the males of the family in the midst of a construction project repairing and replacing the tiles on their roof while Katerina and Marina occupied themselves with the organization of a mini party for themselves in their room dancing and singing to music. This family survives by way of irregular social assistance but thank God, is in far healthier psychological and physical states than the Stojanovic family. In addition to books and toys for the girls, we obtained a washing machine and three beds for the family. With this visit, we complete our tour of families in the township of Novo Brdo.

 

 

On our return to Zvecan we stopped by Monastery Draganac, an endowment of holy martyr Tsar Lazar, erected in the 14th century and named after one of his daughters. The church was destroyed several times and rebuilt ten years ago, thanks to the arrival of Father Kiril, an extraordinary individual who with his God-given hands singularly rebuilt a large portion of the monastic complex—the strength of this man is truly unbelievable until it is witnessed firsthand on site. Father Kiril hosted our small group and upon brief heartfelt conversations we warmly part ways with an invitation from him to return to the monastery when each of us marries.

 

 

 

 

An interesting aspect of our recent humanitarian mission is the fact that, due to the financial contributions we received and the number of families we subsequently planned to visit, for the first time ever we were able to devote two full days to the aide effort.

 

We begin day two of our mission in the early hours of Sunday, January 16, 2011 heading to the township of Strpce where we will help needy Serbs living in that area. In Strpce we were greeted by Father Aleksandar, our old friend from earlier missions in the area. With his enormous help we discovered and visited six families from within the neighborhood. 

 

 

The first family Father Aca took us to was the family of Branislav Stevanovic. In addition to Branislav, the family consists of his three daughters, who are students in Mitrovici (they were not present during our visit), his wife and youngest son. In speaking with the family, we learned that Branislav occasionally gets work in construction when work is available and that aside from that, the family does not have an income. We also discovered that the daughters are excellent students majoring in biology and chemistry but that they are struggling with the housing fees in Mitrovici. Given that we were convinced on site that their living conditions were adequate regarding furnishings, we nevertheless decided to make a small exception for this family. Due to father Aca’s advice and high recommendation, we designated 300 euros for the family’s student housing fees so as to ease their difficulties and make possible the timely obtainment of college degrees which, we hope will ultimately enable a better life for the daughters and their family. The youngest family member received educational books on Serbian literature and a package of sweets.

 

We continue and end our humanitarian mission by visiting five families in the village of Vrbesnica at the foot of Mount Sar. The landscape of the village features green hills against the white peaks of the Serbian Alps, antiquated cottages and mountain streams all of which leaves an extraordinary impression on us. In awe of our surroundings, we are unable to cease admiring another of the beauties, which adorn our holy Serbian land. As such moments pass so rapidly, we return to the task at hand and the harsh reality of the first five families from that village.

 

  

The Stankovic family, consisting of Stanko, the father and Ivana, the mother and their two girls Aleksandra (2 yrs.) and Andrijana (4 yrs.) live in catastrophic conditions without a bathroom in a one and a half room dwelling, on social assistance and sporadic minimum wage. We did not find the father at home and from Ivana, his wife, learned about their most pressing needs. Due to their dire living conditions and their small children we have decided to designate for them a refrigerator, washing machine, bed, four chairs and a vacuum cleaner. The children will receive clothing, toys and sweets.

 

 

 

 

 

The next family we came to is also named Stankovic and consists of Zoran, the father his wife and three sons, Nebojsa (12 yrs.), Nenad (9 yrs.) and Nikola (6 yrs.). This family lives in a house that belongs to their cousins and which has been offered to them on unspecified terms. The house is fully equipped and furnished. The issue was with the fact that the family has the necessary items for a normal life however nothing belongs to them. In the end we agreed to donate a bed as they were in need of one due to the number of children they have.

 

 

Our visits continue with the Staletovic family consisting of Zoran, his wife, Ljupka and their children Violeta (15 yrs.), Stojko (12 yrs.), Valentina (10 yrs.) and Stefan (4 yrs.). We were introduced to this family by their benevolent neighbors who had good reason to bring us to them. This family abundant in children, is severely lacking in many other ways. With the exception of 7,000 dinars in social assistance, the family has no income. Upon speaking with Ljupka, the mother, we agreed to help them with a washing machine, wood-burning oven and four chairs. The children received gifts of sweets and books on Serbian literature and Orthodox themes. Midst plenty of words of thanks we received from yet another family, we moved straight on to the next family in the neighborhood.

 

The Orlovic family, whom we were also introduced to by the noble residents of this village, consists of Svetislav, the father, Budimka, his wife, her elder and disabled mother and the couple’s four children Aleksandar (16 yrs.), Jovana (14 yrs.), Dragana (11 yrs.) and Darko (9 yrs.). Needless to say, their situation is critical—there is no income aside from modest social assistance, the household is large and there is no possibility of owning livestock. For this impoverished family we have designated a refrigerator, three beds and four chairs.

 

And it is here, where we completed our family visits but not our list of planned help. Namely, a cousin of the Orlavic family named Vesna was present during the visit. She has six children one of whom is seriously ill. We met her family during our last visit and promised them a small refrigerator, which were going to deliver now. Prior to leaving the village we distributed more sweets, toys and books to children who had gathered because of our visit but whose families we did not help during this particular mission.

 

We thank Ms. Nada Vulic from London who donated 3,000 dinars, which we used to purchase gift packages for all the families we visited during this Christmas mission in the holy Serbian land.

 

Reflecting on how the days pass for these brave Serbs in an environment where they lack basic human freedoms, where children have no fulfillment except for each other, where people have not the opportunity for the most basic and humble work as farmers and livestock proprietors; we leave disappointed because we realize that our help is just a drop in the cup from which the thirsty cannot be satiated. Instead of being satisfied upon delivering to the Serbian people in the Kosovo-Metohija region the most comprehensive support to date through the continuation of our organization, we retreat discouraged toward the capital city (capital in terms of a lack of concern for those who live outside its walls) because we know that we have changed very little in the lives of the people here.

 

We are not comforted by the fact that our small assistance is a great deal more than what others are doing, nor does this discourage us from continuing to help our fellow people from the historic Serbian judgment day and Serbian shrines, rather it inspires us to persist more strongly and to help even more in the future regardless of the bitter taste it might leave in our mouths because nothing is changing for the better.

 

Each and every time, we will give our maximum effort for the sake of sleeping Serbian pride, for the sake of stirring the Serbian spirit (which has been sleeping a winter’s sleep for decades), for the sake of an example to others, for the sake of a positive example to the country, for the sake of future generations.

 

Get up and WAKE UP Serbs and think of your generations to come-- think about what they will inherit.

 

NO SURRENDER!

 

With faith in God,

Predrag Marinković

 

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Serbs for Serbs provided a cow in Majevica

 

 

At the meeting with Dr. Savic he introduced us with the problems that municipalities have in taking care of the poor and how they help. We were pleasantly  surprised with the effort  made by  the mayors  invest in fundraising  to address  the basic needs of those families as well as his desire  to facilitate our visit to the families that we choose to help in this action. Thanks to the hospitality and kindness of our hosts, although we were in Lopare for the first time we felt like we were among friends of many years.  We quickly found the village Peljav and family Cetkovic.  Milorad  got married ten years ago with Genoveva, Romanian woman, with whom he had four children Gina (9), Miodrag (8 ), Milijana (7),  Mirko (1.5) years.

They live in an unfinished house that has only two rooms. Milorad wages and thus trying to feed his family. Genoveva, very valuable and a good mother she ties to contribute as much as possible. Children are beautiful, loving  and raised well, they are good students as well.

During our visit Mirko was sleeping so tight that even our voices didn’t wake him up, while other children curiously accompanied our tour.  We found out that Genoveva stay was not legalized in our country and in the meantime, her passport has expired and we promised to help her collect the necessary documentations. In further conversation with them we tried to figure out what is the most effective way to help Milorad,Genoveva and their children so we concluded to buy them a cows, for which they have good conditions and enough land. In this way they don’t have to buy milk for the children and could sell rest  and have a monthly income.


Around New Year Vasilije donated money to less fortunate families in Majevica from Switzerland and 100km we gave to the mother to pay for milk for two months, there was no need to buy food because they had enough.
Accordingly, we decided to leave money with our representative Vaslije so that he can buy them a cow and if there is remaining money he plans to buy more chickens to be grown.

Geneva could manage to enter the production chain of chicken that would have provided allocation of additional money. We  previously agreed with the mayor that we will keep in mind to  help  with our other  brotherly organizations and municipality Lopare in a near future to finish Cetkovica small house and  round up all their needs.
From Peljavo we were escorted by little Gina, then we went to Bobedina hills near family Teodorovic. Radislav, his brother, wife Jadranka and three children  (Jovica '97, Daniel '99 and Stojan '02) live in what I would call ruins than houses. Adults and the oldest child are people with special needs. The girls were sleeping during our visit so we only met the brother Jovica who does not attend school but from whom we learned that girls were excellent students last year. Dr. Savic in this case managed to animate the village and raise some funds to make their homes. They are hoping this summer municipality will complete the project and collect sufficient funds to complete a modest home so that kids can move before the house they live in collapse.



Because Todorovic family received assistance for New Year from Majevicani we tried to figure out what could be the best possible way to at least little bit improve children’s dull life.
Radislav told us that they carry water every day a half kumometers distance. During Vasilije’s last visit he told us that he sow lice in the girl’s hairs so we agreed to  help with other brotherly organizations and municipality so that we can at least provide water a front of the house for the children.

Our plan was to visit household of thirteen members, family Todorovic  in  the village Labucka but we were told that this village was far and it could not be approached by a car. Since Vasilije helped them for the New Year with some urgent needs of this family, we agreed that he will visit them later to see if we can help the family with something in long term.



After visiting Lopare we had lunch, which we were honored by the Mayer and we discussed the impressions of that day and made the final conclusions.  We said good bye to Lopare with the hope that we find a long term solution for these children and reduce the number of them who live in poverty.

With a book of Lopare that we received as a gift from the Mayor, we went thinking that it seems like things are moving forward as more and more people in responsible positions such as Dr. Rado Savic, begins to fight for their residents.

Organizations such as ours, the good people who help us and enthusiasts like Dr. Savic in our institutions will lead to no more hungry Serbian children.


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SfS visited family Matić in Novi Sad

The family has an income of 8.400 dinars (just over 80 EUR) which Jadranka earns as an employee of Clinical center in Priština.

The monthly expences for the rent and utilities are 220 EUR, so it’s not difficult to conclude that this family from Knin is having a hard time to survive. It is worth mentioning that Jadranka’s first husband died defending the Serbian people in Srpska Krajina.

When we visited the family, not all the children were at home. We could only talk to Đorđe, who is a quiet boy. He is prepared to work anywhere, as long as he is being paid, because he had had bad experiences. Đorđe and Milorad were both employed in a firm that provides security, but they weren’t registered nor paid, so they left the firm.

Milena is the only employed member of the family, but she lives and works in Montenegro as a waitress, and manages only to earn for rent and food. After talking to Jadranka we went to the mall and bought the necessarry groceries – flour, oil, sugar and milk in the amount of 7.200 dinars, because they only had some flour, and they wouldn’t be able to buy bread.

We said goodbuy to the family, and promised not to forget them.


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We delivered tractor to the Ekmečić family

 

Prebilovci is located about 30 km both from Mostar and the Adriatic coast. It has always been a Serbian village, and a symbol of suffering and martyrdom. During the World War II, 52 families were killed, and 36 homes were ruined. The killed were buried in collective grave, which represents one of the greatest tombs of the murdered Serbs in the World War II. After the slaughter, there were only 174 inhabitants left, out of more than a thousand before that. During the last war, most of the villagers went to exile, and the Ekmečić family is among the approximately 20 families that came back.

We met at the town of Pale with Dobrina Kusmuk the president of our organization from the Republic of Srpska. She and her husband accompanied us to Prebilovci. We received an amazing welcome. They were sincerely happy and excited due to our arrival, and welcomed us wholeheartedly. Despite their humble life, they organized a true feast, and their relatives, neighbors, friends and the local priest joined them. The host Miladin insisted on the pray and the blessing of our gathering and especially to consecrate a tractor. We delivered several books of Orthodox and historical theme to the youngest and finished the formalities of signing the contract of donation with Miladin.

Miladin is a former member of the Army of Republic of Srpska. He and his wife Sojka have five children: Bojan (19), the student of informatics, Bojana (16), Branka (10), Biljana (9), and the youngest and the cutest one Božana (3). This very hardworking family lives from agriculture. They grow potato, zucchini, tomato, peppers and onion, which they sell, and they grow other vegetables and some fruit for their needs. There was an article about Miladin in the local papers, because he is a producer who managed to produce “Watermelon for Guinness”. The land around the Neretva is very fertile, and Miladin knows how to use that.  

Our impression about them was very positive. They aren’t giving up due to the difficulties in life. Miladin and his son Bojan are growing the land given to them in lease, mostly from the neighbors living in Diaspora. Up to now they managed to do that only when they were able to rent a tractor, which made them dependent on someone else’s plans and free time. The land in their property is far away from them, so the tractor we gave them will now enable them to grow their land as well.

The reaction of everyone present assured us that we did the right thing by delivering the tractor. That was confirmed when we all saw Miladin’s determination to use this donation the best way possible. The tractor will surely help this family to become completely independent and financially stabile family in short notice. We should mention that this action has not yet come to its end. We need more money to buy the appliances for the tractor, so that Miladin could upgrade the production. We hope to get the appliances soon, which will end this important project. However, we have seen that all things said about Miladin and his diligence was true, because he is not waiting for our organization to buy everything, but he’s borrowing from others, thus not wasting the precious time for farming the land. 

This project of the organization was not only the largest financially, but also the most important. The buying of the tractor represented the fulfillment of our primary goal concerning all the families – to allow them to stand on their feet through work and production, a long-term perspective and financial independence. We got a promise from Miladin that he will use the tractor to help other Serbs from Prebilovci and nearby as well.

We left the Ekmečić family with the desire to meet them again soon. On our way back we stopped to see place where there were once the monument dedicated to the murdered Serbs in the World War II and the Orthodox Church, both destroyed at the beginning of the war 1991 by the descendants of those who killed the Serbs earlier. Despite the attempts to hide the evidence of the suffering of Serbs, a new church and the monument will be built again.

We will conclude by ascertaining that the Ekmečić family is not in extremely bad social position as is the case with some other families we are helping, because they have their home, and manage to send their children to school. Their condition is, however, very sensitive, and an accident, like the one last year, when Sojka was hurt, can destabilize them. The cows are being taken to a distant pasture. The renting of tractor was quite waste of time, and that is now over.

We thank all the donors again and also the Government of the Republic of Srpska. We owe special thanks to our representative Dobrina Kusmuk for all the things done. The project is not over yet, and we need additional donor help to complete this nice story.

 

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Serbs for Serbs again in Prijedor

The first day of our visit to Republic of Srpska our destination was Prijedor. To make us feel like home in “angry frontier” our friends from café “Kameljara” took care of that. That is where we discussed future plans! After a short break and hanging out with our great friends from Prijedor we went to action and visited family Marijanović.

The family has 11 members: father Drasko, mother Mira, and children Dragan (18), Suzana (15), Marinko (13), Zeljka (11), Jelena (10), Dragan (9), Zeljko (7), Predrag (4) and the youngest Svetlana, who is only 8 months old. After we greeted the family and wished them a Merry Christmas we decided to first delight the oldest and youngest member of the household, the father Drasko whom we bought a chainsaw “Huskvarna 435” so that he can make at least some kind of earning for his family and little Svetlana we bought a baby crib so that she does not have to sleep any more in the basket of the stroller in which we found her during the last visit.

After that father invited us into his modest home that is old and dilapidated but full of smiles and lives of children, what could be more valuable or important than that? At Marijanovic’s home with pleasant conversation we agreed to purchase food that they need to make their winter at least little shorter until our next arrival. Just like the previous time mother Mira is worried about the food for little Svetlana, who cannot process the regular milk yet and is needing formula which is really expensive. Father Drasko informs us that he managed to secure some material from the company he used to work for who owned him money. In an addition we discussed how we can help them permanently. Short after that we went to shopping center in Prijedor in order to bring the action to the end. At the shopping center we bought various supplies for hygiene, food and of course we cannot forget the candy for the children.

Total value was around 400KM. We returned to Marijanovic’s home to leave the merchandise we purchased and with good buys we deported for Bosanski Samac, where we slept overnight ahead of the second day of our action in the Republic of Srpska.

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