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Donation Day in Serbia
TACC recently donated £10,000 to the Ecumenical Humanitarian Organisation (EHO) in Serbia during the recent Serbia v Scotland match. TACC Ambassadors Jim Hart and Dorothy Wilson were on hand to present the donation and have a wee party for the children at the same time. Here are some highlights from the report kindly submitted by them.
“EHO offer support to all forms of ethnic groups, and there are lots in Serbia, and there are no discrimination/preferences. Most of their clients come to EHO via word of mouth - there is no, or little, publicity about their service. Overall they have about 500 volunteers involved in a wide variety of functions in addition to the salaried staff, some of whom we met.Due to the diversity of the work they undertake, they are closely involved with a wide variety of agencies - immigration, hospitals, education, social welfare, housing etc. but at the same time they also have to overcome the political and administrative barriers that are ever present in Serbia currently.
We were picked up around 10:30am and taken to the EHO HQ. There we met with the Director, Vladislav Iviciak in his office before taking a wee tour of their facilities. Dot and I gave them a brief history of TACC and the work we do.
After EHO HQ we went back to the hotel and picked up the rest of BPTA and went to the children’s shelter at about 12.30. We stayed about 2 hours. Dot and I then travelled to Viliki Rit - Gegi's (TACC Education Scholarship recipient) home - for about 40 minutes and then we both travelled to a restaurant to meet the Municipal Rep responsible for Social Protection and Children’s Welfare.
The Shelter programme has been going 3 years and seems well organised - they have set up various initiatives that will help and educate the children, including thing’s as basic as washing their hands which we take for granted. They are basically trying to get kids off the bottom of the poverty ridden socio-deprivation cycle before developing them higher.
The shelter itself is a pretty basic hall (maybe 50 x 20 feet) with a couple of small side rooms - one was an office and I think the other a toilet. it's located on the outskirts of the central town area and in the ground floor of a multi-storied building, which is located in a fairly poor part of town. I think there are plans to hand, involving financial support that will facilitate construction of a new purpose built facility, but they have been put on hold due to some of the political problems mentioned earlier, as their sponsors change or are frustrated in their efforts. The Shelter is hosted by a young lady - Anita, I think there were about 5 staff/volunteers on duty while we were there - including Nikola who is also a psychologist.
On the day there were about 25 children present, ranging in age from about 8 up to late teens. Almost without exception they were clean and well dressed. The children have been learning various performances and they showed us a great juggling act which included Gegi and his brother Sebastian, then an older kid played the bongos while a younger kid gave us a very confident song, they finished off with the boys performing a dance variation (including a Scottish one). All very accomplished. Dot and I managed a "Gay Gordons" in response. Overall everybody enjoyed themselves and we were given a very warm welcome.
Where Gegi lives is ”illegal” which means it receives no municipal support. It houses about 4,000 folks. The houses are mostly hand built from whatever materials come to hand. The roads are totally potholed on a dirt base and very bad. Gegi's home was clean though, with rugs covering all the floor, 2 bedrooms and a larger functional room where all the appliances and wood burning stove were located. It was warm enough, especially considering it was about 2 deg outside. I think all the utilities are "shared" or tapped into across all the houses in the area. Gegi’s had running water and electricity - it is one of the few. We were kindly given a small drink of cola and offered a plate of biscuits.
Gegi has to share the house with his 6 brothers and 2 sisters. In order to obtain any sort of child support, the child needs to be registered to attend school. Most are, although this does not mean that they necessarily attend depending on circumstance and financial restraints. Gegi's intent is to study Chemistry, Physics and Geography at secondary school and the small part of TACC's donation that will be directed to help him will hopefully enable him to stay in school and realise these ambitions.
In summary, for me, the work the shelter does with the kids is outstanding, but it must be like trying to kayak up a fast flowing river. Stop paddling or take a rest and you've found yourself way downstream again. (The BPTA guys who did the sightseeing trip with Nela after the Shelter, saw some of the Shelter Kids out selling lemons on the street later). We got the impression that those we spoke to were very committed to the children and the work that they do. It will certainly be interesting to monitor Gegi's progress and also to see if his development will act as a successful role model for others to follow.”
Sounds like everybody had a brilliant day anyway and it’s fantastic that the children enjoyed themselves (that cake looks amazing). Our donation will go towards supporting the crucial, difficult and sometimes heartbreaking work that is being undertaken to improve the lives of the children supported by the shelter and for Gegi could make a huge difference in his life by providing a means to a better education.
Huge thanks to Jim and Dorothy for coordinating our donation and presentation in Serbia and also all the Tartan Army foot soldier volunteers who gave up their time to go along to the shelter. The work that our Ambassador’s do is fantastic and without folks like them, as well as every one of our supporters who raise money, donate to TACC, participate in a Kiltwalk or even just buy our away T-shirts, we wouldn’t be able to help and support very worthy causes on behalf of the Tartan Army like the EHO Shelter and the children that they care for and nurture.
The Tartan Army Children's Charity- Supporting disadvantaged children both home and away.
(You can see all the pictures by clicking on the Donation day Gallery link at the top of the page and don't forget to "Like" our Facebook post to spread the latest TACC news).