Many of you have been deeply touched by the images of refugees from Syria and elsewhere, embarking on a long and dangerous journey to safety that has left many dead.
Those who are lucky enough to make it across treacherous seas and closed borders will make it to Belgrade - where many gather at a downtown park, getting a bit of rest, some food, change of clothes, and soap - before continuing on to Hungary and beyond. Scores of volunteers serve the refugees every day, helping to collect and distribute much needed goods or share information. But as thousands of new refugees arrive in Serbia as we speak, even the most basic of assistance is still very much needed.
Last year, we did great in raising money for flood victims in Bosnia and Serbia, so a number of you asked me how to help again from far away. I've been inquiring and watching the groups that deliver assistance and many are doing truly amazing work .
But an informal group of citizens from Sarajevo caught my attention for their honesty, innovation, and genuine commitment to helping those many of us can easily relate to. Gathered around Sandra Sladakovic, a true force of nature, and a small civic group "Komšiluk" ("The 'Hood"), this group of friends managed to gather 5 tons of food, hygiene products, and other supplies in one week (!!!) and transport it over to Belgrade.
Sandra and her friends are at it again, this time hoping to collect or fundraise for a more specific set of goods*, including comfortable shoes, socks, baby carriers; energy bars, dried fruit, canned halal food; wet wipes, shampoo, lice shampoo, soap, toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags; ready-made baby food that needs no refrigeration.
However, most helpful is to donate money because Sandra and "Komšiluk" have managed to get several local companies (such as Klas, Gadžo, Džajić Komerc, and Akova Impex) to make matching donations when they purchase the goods themselves!
So, this fundraiser is to collect money for Sandra and her friends to purchase what is needed to best assist the refugees in Belgrade. Sandra coordinates with many on the ground, including ADRA, an organization with a proven track record in delivering humanitarian aid, and one which many of the Balkan folks will remember well from the 1990s.
We are aiming for a fairly modest amount , because this is a small group of volunteers that can only do so much. Should we collect (much) more than we aim for, we will distribute any funds that Sandra's group can't absorb to organizations such as ADRA.
Please feel free to follow Sandra's Facebook page for updates, and I will also keep you posted here. You can also donate directly to her at the account number noted in the list marked with * above.
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