January 20, 2015

We are the champions of poverty!

 Having the poverty rate of 24.6 percent, Serbia takes the first place in Europe with 700.000 people living below the poverty line. The organization Serbs for Serbs has helped more than 400 families in nine years. We are witnesses of moral collapse, lost of security and perspective, devastation of traditional values and the attempt to establish new ones based on the pure materialist worldview, nihilistic and hedonistic life.

We are witnesses that young people are brought to the state of apathy, and they are not interested of the life going around them. In that distorted value system a group of mindful and young people from homeland and abroad emerged, to which Igor V. Stevanovic joined in 2009 as a volunteer. Today he is a coordinator of the Charity organization Serbs for Serbs for the Southeast Serbia, and a student of the final year of Faculty of Law in Nis.

What distinguishes Serbs for Serbs from other similar organizations?

Besides the fact that the organization is primarily consisted of young people, the most specific about this charity organization is that it has from its establishment functioned completely transparently, because all the donations the donors sent could be seen on the website of the charity organization (www.srbizasrbe.org), and every help to the families was documented by photos and bills.

The organization gained great trust in Serbia and abroad?

Transparency attracted great number of donors especially from abroad, who have had very bad experience with many charity organizations during the last 20 years, because the help didn’t arrive to the right place. For the trust we earned in diaspora, the most credit go to our registered branches in the Republic of Srpska, United States of America, Switzerland, Austria and recently Germany.

When did you join the organization?

This way of working drew me to join as a volunteer five years ago when I was almost 18, and to help primarily the endangered families in Southeast Serbia, because there are a lot of large families who live in very difficult conditions.

What is the situation in Serbia regarding poverty?

As official data of the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia show, having the poverty rate of 24.6 percent, Serbia takes the first place among the poor countries of Europe. In Serbia alone there are over 700.000 people below the poverty rate, so we have tried since the beginning to help where it was most needed and where there are most endangered.

Is there a data of how many families you helped so far?

During nine years, we helped over 400 families with over 1.500 children.

JURIST AND HUMANITARIAN

Igor V. Stevanovic was born in Nis in 1992. He finished elementary school Cele kula and Gimnasium 9th May in Nis, after which he enrolled in the Faculty of Law in Nis and is currently attending fourth year. Organization Serbs for Serbs was founded in 2005. The aim of the organization was to animate our people in Serbia and abroad to jointly help those who need help the most, and those are large families in Serbia and in other countries where the Serbian families live. Igor V. Stevanovic is a coordinator for Southeast Serbia, the editor-in-chief of the Austrian-German youth magazine SPOJI and the president and co-founder of the student-pupil association ORNAS in the University of Nis.

Which families have you also helped?

In the area of Vranje we helped the seven-member family Stojiljkovic from Golemo Selo by providing cement, sand and other material to arrange the rooms in which they live, because the house is not plastered and there are a lot of holes, so there was a danger for five young children to meet the winter in inhumane conditions, and the five-member family Aleksic from the village Grdanja, by buying the material for repairing the house.

You also had an action during the spring floods?

Due to great May floods we commenced an action which is still in progress, Fight against the floods, and we collected so far nearly 600.000 EUR of help which would be used for the repair of the flooded objects and other help to the families from Serbia and the Republic of Srpska which were hit.

How much money did the organization collect so far?

According to our report, by the end of August 2014 we collected over 1.000.000 EUR.

What is your organization’s motto?

In short, the philosophy of our organization is reflected in the old Chinese proverb: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. We are primarily focused in providing the families with enduring help, which comes to the fore mostly with the families living in countryside.

What does the help consist of?

The help usually consists of buying hens, goats, pigs, cows, cultivating machines and other things necessary for the family to stand on its own feet. We also had several big actions in which we bought or renovated the households.

You also had a successful sport project?

Since 2012 in cooperation with the Basketball Alliance of Serbia we commenced a charity-sport project Trojka iz bloka, which was held in over 15 towns so far, and whose aim is to provide bathrooms to endangered families which didn’t have a bathroom, and thanks to the tournament we built over 10 bathrooms. Due to the May floods we decided that help gathered in the scope of this project would be directed to the flooded ones.

You are very active in the Pcinja area?

Regarding the Pcinja area, I must say I am particularly attached to that area because I am from Vranje by origin, so the situation in that area affected me greatly. We managed to organize a branch of the Charity organization Serbs for Serbs in Nis in whose work are included about a dozen of volunteers who managed to help fifteen families from the Southeast Serbia in four years.

Our newspaper has a good cooperation with you?

We owe special thank in our work in the Pcinja area to the Charity bridge and Vesti from Frankfurt who published the texts about the unfortunate destinies of families from Vranje and surrounding villages and enabled us to find out about those families and help them according to our possibilities. We helped several families so far. I would like to greet your readers and thank them for the help they are sending, because I was personally convinced how much that help meant to those poor families.

After the text in Vesti about the Antic family from Drenovac near Vranje you helped this extremely poor family.

The state in which father Novica and mother Dusanka with their children Miljana, Aleksandar, Stefana and Dimitrije lived was unworthy of life in the 21st century. The condition was made more difficult by the facts that the father had an alcohol issue, which he was trying to cure, and that the mother had psychic problems, difficulties in communication and inability to take care of herself. All the burden of running the household was placed on the oldest son Aleksandar and oldest daughter Miljana. We provided for the Antic family: a new household, two folding beds, two comforters, elementary groceries, two goats, five laying hens, freezer, wood-burning stove, chainsaw, four sacks of flour, and four sacks of food for the hens.  

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