By Croatia Relief Team (Originally in Croatian)
Following Master’s caring instruction to help people in times of dire need, our Association members from Croatia formed a relief team and have brought aid to refugees in Croatia and Serbia since November of 2015 to February 2016. In total, we used EUR 7,961 from Master’s fund and EUR 5,416 contributed by our Association members from the United States for the relief work.
Distributing Fruit to Refugees in Opatovac, Croatia – November 2015
In November 2015, we brought vegan food and fruit, and kindly asked our friends from the Spanish NGO REMAR (REhabilitation of socially MARginalized people) to distribute them inside the Opatovac camp. We also brought vegan food for babies and small children, which was immediately taken to them.
Assisting Refugees in Serbia – December 2015
To provide support and encouragement for the refugees, on December 11, 2015, one of our Croatia Association members brought bananas, mandarins, warm socks, vegan pâtés, snacks and other necessities to the refugees in Sid, Serbia who were waiting for the next train to Slavonski Brod, Croatia. There were almost 4,000 refugees arriving by bus or train each day from Greece, across Macedonia and Serbia on the way to Europe. Fortunately, everything was well organized on both the Serbia and the Croatia sides. Refugees were able to get warmed up in tents, rest and have some refreshments in Serbia before boarding the trains on the Croatia side.
Bringing Aid to Slavonski Brod Camp, Croatia – December 2015
At end of December 2015, our Croatia relief team visited the refugee camp in Slavonski Brod. At that time, there were a large number of refugees arriving and leaving the camp. We brought fresh apples and oranges, which were immediately put into lunch packages by Croatian Red Cross volunteers. We also brought 86 pairs of warm shoes for men, which were unpacked and ready for distribution in the camp. In addition, we gave children’s knit hats, gloves and scarves to the UNHCR – The United Nations Refugee Agency team who is taking care of children. They were very thankful and remembered how we brought two big teddy bears to another refugee camp. The cute bear toys are now at Slavonski Brod in the children’s tent.
Delivering Shoes to Refugees in Dimitrovgrad, Serbia – January 2016
In January 2016, our Croatia relief team delivered 83 pairs of warm shoes to a camp in Dimitrovgrad, Serbia where the temperature had dropped far below zero degrees Celsius. As many refugees were stranded in Macedonia or Serbia due to border closures, we planned to organize more relief activities there in the near future. We offer our heartfelt prayers for the refugees. May their situation improve soon.
Relief Efforts for Refugees in Serbia – February 19 to 21, 2016
As a result of border restrictions, many refugees were currently stranded at the Tabanovce, Macedonia and Šid, Serbia refugee camps. Border crossing between Macedonia to Serbia was strictly regulated and had also been closed on a few occasions. The same situation occurred on the Bulgaria-Serbia border. Only refugees from Syria and Iraq were allowed to continue along the route, and only if their destination was Austria or Germany.
With the relief fund of EUR 5,416 (US$6,024) contributed by our Association members from the Illinois and Los Angeles Centers in the United States, one of our Croatian Association members bought fruit and warm shoes for refugees in Šid, Belgrade, Preševo and Dimitrovgrad in Serbia, to help them during the cold weather.
In Preševo, he also managed to distribute warm clothes as well as “Those Who Have Love Are Nearest to God” flyers to share Master’s words of comfort to the refugees. After the long journeys and physical hardships faced in their quest for safety, they received the warm clothes and shoes with sincere appreciation.
During our Association member’s relief efforts, he met and worked along with volunteers at refugee information points in Belgrade, Preševo and Dimitrovgrad. The Serbia nonprofit I’m Human Organisation (iHo) started a campaign called “Ask for Help.” The initiative provides instructions and advice to the refugees about situations along the route, such as where to go, what to expect, and help with checking identification and other papers needed, to help make their journey easier.
We pray that the refugees may soon reach a destination that brings them lasting peace, comfort and safety.
Expenditures by Supreme Master Ching Hai and Her International Association for Refugee Relief Work in Croatia and Serbia
|Fruit (apples and oranges), supplies (86 pairs of shoes, and knit hats, gloves and scarves for children) and transportation for relief work at Slavonski Brod camp, Croatia||3,617||A|
|83 pairs of shoes for refugees at Dimitrovgrad camp, Serbia||1,786||B|
|Warm clothes, shoes and fruit for the refugees in Serbia||5,416||C|
|Fruit (mandarins and bananas), warm socks, vegan pâtés, snacks and other necessities for the refugees in Serbia||1,358||D|
|Fruit, vegan food, snacks, drinks, baby food and accessories for the refugees in Croatia||1,200||E|
|Total|| EUR 13,377