July 23, 2014

Serbs for Serbs active in Montenegro

Members of the Charity organization Serbs for Serbs visited Montenegro from June 21st to 24th because of the completion of the house for family Dragojevic from Martinic near Podgorica. It is the first big project of the Charity organization Serbs for Serbs in Montenegro, and it was conducted in cooperation with Ostrog monastery. Building of the house costed 15.000 EUR. The works are nearly finished. The archbishop of Montenegro and Littoral Amfilohije welcomed the members of the organization, in which we presented our activities and future plans. Apart from family Dragojevic, we visited two other families and organized a meeting with people who will work on the registration of the organization in Montenegro.


The aims of the action in Montenegro were: 1) visit to family Dragojevic from Martinic; 2) visiting two other families; 3) reception with archbishop Amfilohije; 4) agreement with the brotherhood of the Ostrog monastery on future cooperation and projects; 5) gathering of new people who will register the organization in Montenegro and 6) visit to several monasteries in Montenegro. All the aims were succesfully fulfilled.

We started our visit on Saturday, June 21. Near the Serbian-Montenegro border we visited Kumanica monastery, and our next stop was Dajbabe monastery. In both monasteries we were warmly welcomed.


In the evening hours we arrived at Ostrog, and met father Matej who was running the project. St. Vasilije Ostroski is the protector and slava of the organization Serbs for Serbs. Next to his remains a prayer was prayed for all the members and donors of the organization and for our future work, which represents special honor.


After that, archbishop Amfilohije welcomed us. In the short conversation we presented previous activities of our organization and future plans, with special emphasis on Montenegro. We were talking about several families which live in difficult conditions, and we were astonished that the archbishop had information in every household. We were encouraged by his wisdom. After delivering the annual report of our organization and the promise to be present in a greater extent in Montenegro, we went to sleep along with several hundreds of other pilgrims.


The Sunday commenced with the liturgy and lunch. Before lunch we had another opportunity to talk with archbishop Amfilohije and get to know the status of Serbian Orthodox Church in Southern and Middle America where the archbishop Amfilohije is administering until the appointment of new archbishop.


During the lunch we were listening to young minstrels from the artistic society of the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ from Podgorica. Our members from Podgorica and Herceg Novi joined us during the lunch.


The first family we visited during the day was family Dragojevic. There were very happy to meet us, and the mother introduced us to her children as brothers and sisters. The house is not finished yet, because the exterior facade and some inner works remain unfinished. We have already collected the money for equiping the house.


New house has the surface of 155m2 in a single level and 4 rooms. Vast part of the material was bought at low prices thanks to father Matej who engaged personally and visited the warehouses. We owe special thank to our friends from Budva who donated bathroom equipment and tiles. Predrag Dragojevic performed much of the work himself or organized volunteers.


In our conversation with Predrag we found out that he has about 0.5 acres, and a forest shared with his brother and father, which is not enough to sustain three families. He is renting the forests and logging, but due to the problems with payment he is forced to lend money. Ostrog monastery helped a lot in paying off the debts, but it takes a lot to sustain the family and avoid new debts. In order to earn extra money, Predrag is occasionally working for a wage. They recently received a cow, and now they have milk, kaymak and cheese.


After visiting the new house, we went into the old one which is in a terrible condition for a family with five children. The house is over 150 years old, and the beams in the roof and floorboards are cracked. The things in the house are unusable, and the family will get new ones for the new house.


The parents asked how to repay, and our answer was that the help we provided should be the stimulus for furher struggle to provide the decent life for their children and to make sure that the new house is always clean. The youngest members of the family will perhaps be in a position to help someone else in the future.


The next family we visited was family Dasic, which lives near family Dragojevic. The family consists of father Zelimir, mother Lidija and their nine children – Srecko (18), Sasa (16), Sanja (15), Sandra (14), Stefan (11), Bojana (10), Mladena (9), Bozidar (4) and Svetlana, who is in treatment in Bijela due to disabilities and mental health problems. The atmosphere in the house is very gloomy.



The family is a refugee one, from the village Dasinovac near Decane on Kosovo and Metohija. They will need to leave the house in which they currently live soon. Their only income is a social benefit in the amount of 122 EUR once in three months! The Ostrog monastery is considering the housing of this and another family from the nearby building. The family stated they could use a washing machine and a refrigerator.

Father Matej informed us about the terrible condition in which the Serbian refugees from Kosovo and Metohija live in Montenegro, which is discriminating them. The Serbian refugees have no rights, especially because they cannot gain Montenegro citizenship, which is a precursor for exercising rights. The Serbs don't get the citizenship because there is a presumption they will vote against the current political forces. The reality of the Serbian refugees are refugee centres, abandoned factories, the lack of citizenship, the lack of jobs, no social benefit, and the problems which are connected to the above – poverty, sickness and hopelessness.


The last family we visited was a refugee family Milic which we have helped several times before, primarily by delivering groceries and hygiene. The family was forced to leave Djakovica 1999 with six children (the oldest daughter is married and has three children). Unfortunately, since our last visit the situation worsened. The father due to the respiration problems must be attached to the inhaler for 15 hours per day. A new problem arised – the cut of electricity due to the debts. The debt is about 6.200 EUR, and since they live in a refugee center, the bills weren't arriving for a long time, so it is not clear who should pay them. The father now has to spend the 15 hours per day at his relatives' place in another part of the city. It is only making the situation harder. Without the church this family wouldn't have survived. Thanks to the public kitchen at the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ they can count on warm meals every day.

The reason for our visit was the help of Ostrog monastery in the form of donation of 400 EUR for paying part of the debt for electricity in order to bring the electricity back. The family doesn't want to sell their land on Kosovo and Metohija, because the land shouldn't be sold. Although the family is in a difficult condition, they are not giving up, which brings us new strength to continue with our work. The family needs a refrigerator.


By visiting these families we finished “operating” part of action in Montenegro after which we continued visiting the monasteries in Montenegro. The first monastery we visited was the Cetinje monastery where we were warmly welcomed and got the opportunity to see one of the richest treasury of Serbian Orthodox Church. After that we visited beautiful monasteries Gradiste and Praskvice near Petrovac and Budva on the seaside. In Gradiste we met the prior with whom we spoke about the monastery, visitors and our organization, and we even spent the night in Praskvice. It was a great honor to meet the priesthood in this area, and to have all the doors widely opened.


As far as Montenegro is concerned, it was an area with the least of our activities, but it should change in the future. The organization should be registered soon and continue helping the Serbian families with many children. Our presence in the area from which some of the greatest Serbian minds in history originated is very important, especially because, unfortunately, the Serbian people is having troubles in keeping its identity and existence.  

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