Having served over 325,000 meals in Serbia, we now have our team of kitchen experts working in Bosnia and Herzegovina, responding to the developing crisis there. Every morning our volunteers start preparations to cook and distribute breakfast, lunch and dinner for the several hundred residents living in Ušivak Camp near Sarajevo.
While the number of camp residents is steadily increasing, a non-negligible number of people living on the streets still remains. We therefore continue to provide both daily lunch and dinner at designated spots in the city. Combined with the in-camp kitchen we prepare and serve a total of about 1500 meals per day in Sarajevo.
This wouldn’t be possible without the financial support given through our volunteers, other groups working on the ground and a handful of passionate donors. As Bosnia and Herzegovina are still experiencing an influx in refugee and migrant arrivals we’re expecting the need for street distributions to continue.
Hunger doesn’t have to be a problem. Help us continue serving daily meals by donating. With only 25€ we are able to feed over 40 people!
Azadi Community Center
While the situation in Serbia settles from a state of crisis to a more structured response, the borders surrounding the country are closing. Leaving large numbers of refugees and migrants stuck in Serbia with little hope of being able to move forward the negative effects on mental health and overall welfare are inevitable. Restlessness, frustration and depression are commonly seen symptoms among those feeling trapped in Serbia.
As a response, in order to empower, create hope and to improve welfare we have opened the Azadi Community Center near Obrenovac Transit Centre. Azadi - meaning ‘freedom’ in Farsi and Urdu - aims to provide a safe space outside of camp where we offer recreational activities, skills-based learning, European language lessons and culture workshops. With a supportive atmosphere and the experience of a sense of progress we hope to foster a feeling of community and purpose.
Like all of our projects, the center is entirely volunteer-run! If you have experience working as a teacher or supporting vulnerable populations we would love to hear from you! Find out about how to get on board here.
Providing hygiene aid at Miksalište is our newest Collective Aid project. Miksalište is a space in the centre of Belgrade, collectively organised by various NGO’s, where new arrivals to Serbia can come for legal advice, help with registering in a camp, and access to social workers.
As of February 2019, we now provide hot showers, laundry service and a clothes exchange for people arriving to the city, after days or potentially weeks on the road. Access to washing facilities is vital for health and comfort; a hot shower and a clean set of clothes can completely change someone's day.
Our team also work closely with MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières) to provide medical showers for people suffering from skin diseases, alongside our basic hygiene showers. After 6pm each day, Miksalište becomes a night shelter for the most vulnerable people who have not -for varying reasons- been allocated a space in a camp. These people are generally unaccompanied minors; people under the age of 18 with no parent or guardian with them. We reopen the showers for individuals staying overnight, which gives the boys a chance to shower in peace away from adults.
Building on our goal of promoting mental and emotional wellbeing we also hold weekly cinema nights at the Obrenovac Transit Centre. Between 200 and 300 residents usually attend seeing it as a chance to get some distraction from everyday life at camp. In order to provide an authentic cinema experience a team of eight volunteers spends their afternoon preparing popcorn, cooking chai and making fresh lemonade to serve during the screening.
It’s a culture exchange really. Listening to resident’s feedback we usually aim to show bollywood movies involving as many different movie tropes as possible. The atmosphere ends up being much more lively than what people are used to from european cinema-going experiences. Residents not interested in the movie usually end up talking to us after we have finished serving snacks and drinks. Cinema nights are our way of providing at least a short, light-hearted escape from the bleak reality that life as a refugee can often be.