June 19, 2013

SFS Easter Action in Krajina

Members of the Charity organization SERBS for SERBS visited twelve families from Kordun and Dalmacija at the end of May. We visited a total of 37 children of various ages, and pledged financial assistance of 7,620 Euros to help them in improving their quality of life. Please see our PHOTO GALLERY from Krajina trip.

Serbs for Serbs together with Zimonja family

The first area we travelled to was in Kordun, visiting villages near Topusko.  There we met the seven-member Zimonja family, consisting of parents Miodrag and Daliborka, grandmother Ljuba, and children Dragana (13), Matija (10), Mirjana (10) and Nikola (1). Very few families with this many members have returned to live in the area.

Nikola Zimonja, the youngest member of Zimonja family

This family, along with most of those we visited in the area, are dependent on social assistance and child benefits for their survival. While the older children were at school, we spent our time visiting with Nikola and his parents. We allocated 700 EUR for this family in order to purchase them a washing machine, refrigerator and six chairs.

In the home with Mraovic family
We visited next with the seven-member Mraovic family. Miodrag and Zorica, along with their children Ljuba (20), Dragana (19), Nada (18), Zoran (17) and Zeljka (6), were one of the first families to return to this area. They, along with other Serbian families in the Topusko area, experience much hostility as unwelcome minorities. They live at the border of their village, close to wild animals. We agreed to get them concrete pillars to provide a secure enclosure to their backyard. As well, we will also deliver to them a wood-burning stove. These expenditures will total 720 EUR.

Subsequently, we headed to Dalmacija, and the areas around Knin, Kistanje and Obravac. We are very thankful to the clergy of the Dalmatian Diocese and the staff of the seminary at Krka Monastery, who helped us reach those in need.

Family Govorusa welcoming Serbs for Serbs

On our first day in the area, we visited two families, the first in Padjen, and the other close by in Mokro Polje. The first was the Govorusa family:  parents Drazo and Branka, grandfather Petar and children Petar (17), Andjela (14) and Nikola (9). This is another family that has returned to the area and relies on social assistance and the occasional odd job to survive. Their house does not have proper protection at its entrance, and when there is wind and precipitation, both rain and snow easily enter the house. With the 600 EUR we plan to spend on this family, they will be able to buy construction materials to better protect the entrance of their home.

Serbs for Serbs in the home of Opacic family
In Mokro Polje, we visited the Opacic family, who lives in a remote part of the village. Neven and Mira, along with their daughter, Marija (12), live under extremely difficult conditions. Their entire village has problems with water supply, forcing the inhabitants to collect rainwater in cisterns.  Simply stated, Neven, Mira and Marija do not have enough money to build a cistern. Serbs for Serbs will be providing them with 900 EUR, so that they too will be able to collect rainwater.

With Buncic family in front of their home
On the second day of our travels, car troubles made our trip to the Buncic family a little more of a challenge than we had expected. Because of lost time with our vehicle, our visit with the parents Zeljko and Vanja, and children Milos (10) and Dragana (16) was cut short. We promised to purchase for them a sow, which will approximately cost 300 EUR.

Predrag Marinkovic in the home of Tisma family
The last family we visited on that second day was the six-member Tisma family. We had visited them the same time last year, providing them with construction material for panels to install in three rooms. With that project complete, more money is now needed to construct a roof to cover the panels.  We agreed to help them finance the purchase of additional construction material for this new project. We offered to give them 700 EUR, enough money to finance one third of the project.

Serbian church in Obrovac
As we continued to be plagued by car problems, our group was split into two teams. One group stayed behind to deal with the auto issues and visit the remaining families in Kistanje, while the other group headed to Obrovac. Waiting for us in Obrovac were friends of Serbs for Serbs, who first alerted us to those in the area who were in desperate need of our help. They were our guides for this leg of our trip.

The youngest members of Baljak family with Serbs for Serbs

We first visited the eight-member Baljak family, a family we had already visited last year, and for whom we had purchased a cow and a calf.  This time, we agreed to buy them a refrigerator/freezer that will cost 400 EUR.

Marija Buljevic and her mother Slobodanka

Moving on to the area by the Zrmanja River, we met with the Buljevic family. This young married couple, Ljubo and Slobodanka, and their two children Dragana (5) and Marija (1) gave us a warm welcome. Their only annual income comes from the rental of kayaks to tourists during the summer months. We agreed to make a purchase of a freezer, and a three-seater sofa for this family, at a cost of 450 EUR.

Dajana and Nikolina Ljubicic from Krupa in their home

Our final visit in the area was to the four-member Ljubicic family from the village Krupa, near the well-known Krupa monastery. This family is experiencing hard times, as the mother, Jela, struggles with mental illness. The father, Novak, tries to keep things together for his daughters Dajana (11) and Nikolina (5) and to help them deal with the stresses of their situation. Before we left, we agreed to purchase a three seater sofa and window for the living room. The cost for these items will be 350 EUR.

Serbs for Serbs with Dragas family in Kistanje

The other members of our Serbs for Serbs team visited the Dragas family in Kistanje. The parents Aleksandar and Magdalena live with their children Viktor (12) and Iris (4). The Dragas family raises cattle and needs material to finish building a barn. This will come at a cost of 700 EUR.

The future barn for family business

Part of the Bjelanovic home builded by the Serbs for Serbs donation

One of our last scheduled visits was with the Bjelanovic family. On our previous visit to this family, we helped them purchase material for the construction of two rooms, so that the parents Nedjo and Milena could have more room to live with their three children who are all minors. The family welcomed us with lunch, in appreciation for our help to finance the construction. We decided to provide them with an additional 800 EUR to build a roof over these two rooms.

New room for the youngest Bjelanovic kids

The last family we were able to help was with the Ognjenovic family. We had met the parents, Radovan and Ognjena and their daughter, Marina (4), several times before at the Krka Monastery. Although we never had the opportunity to visit them in their home, we knew of their need to build a small room and a bathroom, so that they could move into a home of their own. The amount of 1,000 EUR was pledged to help them buy necessary material for construction.

Ognjenovic kids playing in their home

This marked the end of our Easter action in Krajina. In addition to our charitable activities, we had a little time to enjoy a dinner with the Vujasinovic and Trazivuk families who wanted to thank us for the construction material we provided them with during our earlier Christmas action. While in the area, we also visited the monasteries of Krka and the Assumption of the Theotokos in Dalj, near Vukovar. We also visited the home of Gavrilo Princip near Bosansko Grahovo.

Our Serbian people in Krajina live in dire conditions.They face daily discrimination to constantly remind them they are not welcome. To make matters worse, they have been neglected by Serbia. This internal division among Serbs, this refusal to help one another, is making it harder for Serbs to remain in an area which has been their home for centuries.

Serbs for Serbs is the only group from Serbia reaching out to those who have returned to live in the Krajina area. You cannot imagine what it means to our Serbs in Krajina to know that there are those who still care about their welfare. We are asking everyone who reads this article to spread the word about the daily struggles of our people. Politicians, former residents of Krajina, companies, individuals, please hear our appeal on behalf of Krajina Serbs. They will not make it without your help. Please help them directly, or through our charitable organization, Serbs for Serbs.  We will continue to reach out to the most desperate returnee families. We urge you all to do the same.

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