TRIP TO KIM 2022
Serbia’s weather is comparable to Chicago’s weather. It was 85F degrees most days during our mission this past June. Kosovo and Metohija are always the destination this time of year and the places that were visited included Studenica, Istok near Peć, village of Crkolez, Decani, Djakovica, Velika Hoca, Mrzenica, Vilovo, Slankamenicki Vinogradi, and, at the beginning and return, Belgrade. Father Radivoje always takes us through Kosovo and Metohija and tells us the history of the different areas. One of the stories was of an abandoned building that was used by the communists as a motel. There had been talk of repurposing it into a camp for children from around the world. Istok near Peć has very few Serbian families left in this area. In the village of Crkolez we brought them packages of food including bags of rice, flour, pasta, oil, sugar, salt, and sweets for the kids as well as detergent and toilet paper. It is very humbling visiting the families as they don’t have much but always offer and provide us with something to eat or drink. We took supplies to four Serbian families and the remaining supplies gave to the local priest for his family. Our Serbs group met up with Father Isaija this year. We haven’t seen him in several years. He does a lot of work at the farm in Decani. It provides much of the food and provisions for feeding the needy from the Decani farms. He had requested a hay-lifter. They have always stacked the hay manually but would be so grateful if they could speed up and increase productivity. Velika Hoca was where we slept that night. During the evening stay, the little girl Pavlina came to serenade us. She is the young lady that said her Orahovac is nicer than Belgrade and that the only thing missing is a playground or a place for young people since those are taken over by Albanians. A young man we met ran a foundation called “Biser of Metohija”, which gives young children a place to play and hang out. They built a beautiful building for the kids to be able to chill. Upon our return home we did authorize a purchase of air conditioning system for the youth center which has since been installed. Jobs in Serbia, Kosovo and Metohija are hard to come by. A cheese making facility is being built near Gracanica which will provide jobs. Families will be able to help themselves. This is a perfect project for Our Serbs. It was requested that we help purchase some of the equipment which is needed for the dairy farm for the cheese making. The products are supplying the VDS soup kitchen in Belgrade while the surplus goes for the locals and clergy. The return on the investment is manyfold. Upon the return from KIM we rested for a day and proceeded to visit some of our other projects. We visited a project that we have been working on for a while. “Zemlja Zivih” in Vilovo is a center which helps individuals with addictions. A year ago, we authorized that a building be erected for a meeting room as well as for multiple purpose: classroom, seminar room, presentation forum etc. The facility also needed a transportation vehicle, so we financed the purchase of a used car. Protinica Anne Krosnjar’s Family had made a generous donation to Our Serbs, and we thought this would be fitting. This facility is occupied by men only, ranging between the ages of 14 -80 years of age, During the conversation with them they told us that during their residence there they live pretty much a monastic life for one year. They have their daily chores to do and work in rotations of cooking, cleaning, tending to the farm animals and gardens while working on their phycological and addiction issues. They are also offered courses in a variety of classes and are encouraged to develop their talents in arts and music. We also visited the women’s center, and their grounds were quite beautiful. We met with about 20 women who told us their stories. They were sad stories of loss since most of them had left their children behind in others’ care but made the brave decision to kick the alcohol or heroin. This was our last visit during this great and awarding trip. Thank you to Mira and Zoran Gusic, as without them we could not succeed. Thank you for the hosts that we met at each of our stops along the way. Thank you to the generous people of Serbia and Donors to Our Serbs, thanks for the many blessings from our orthodox fathers, nuns, and clergy And thank you for safe and speedy passages through our visit.