Flood relief action – report / Volunteers’ Centre of Vojvodina-2014

destroyed street_there was a road that river just took away

As you all know, major climate catastrophe happened in the Balkans back in May 2014. State of emergency was declared in parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia after the heaviest rainfall that led to worst floods since recordings began 120 years ago.

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia were flooded and thousands of people were evacuated from their homes. Overflowing rivers entered towns and villages, cutting off whole communities, while landslides buried houses. Thousands of homes experienced power cuts that lasted for weeks.

Thanks to you, our organization Volunteers’ Centre of Vojvodina – SCI Serbia (VCV Serbia) with an immense support from activists and volunteers did all it could to help the people in the Balkans. We were actively engaged in the nation-wide mobilization of NGO’s, volunteers, cycling organizations, musicians, sportsmen and much more. Although the floods took place in western Serbia and partly south of Vojvodina, the consequences and necessary support requested the entire country and region to adapt daily activities to the current situation. Some of the activities and consequences were reaching Novi Sad, too, where our office is located.

It seemed like there was another connection between climate change and peace in this case, too. On the bright side, it was good to see that climate disaster can also bring together international solidarity and peace, instead of conflict. The example of the Balkans was certainly inspiring. We felt the power of solidarity thanks to all of you who contributed in any way to support our activities.

WHAT WE DID… WITH THE LITTLE HELP OF OUR FRINEDS… – YOU!
The immediate actions that we organized were aid collection for the most vulnerable. This action was organized in cooperation with the Red Cross, Institute for the elderly, Roma settlements and municipalities of Paraćin and Krupanj. We recruited volunteers who joined ongoing relief work around the city of Novi Sad that included following activities: cleaning flooded homes, filling sandbags for river banks etc.

We organized the charity concert „Children for Children“ in collaboration with Branimir Rosic, where children had the opportunity to bring aid to their friends from flooded areas.
The team that was responsible for communication was regularly sending letters and press releases to the world and our international network, so everybody was able to follow events on the international level.
All articles can be found at the following link, the website of Service Civil International that dedicated a blog page for all our activities in Serbia and the region:
http://www.sciint.org/climate-justice-campaign/archive/balkan-floods
Floods have reached us as a climate change warning and reminded us that we must take radical measures – NOW!

The two main and the most challenging activities that we organized were flood relief voluntary workcamps. The two voluntary workcamps took place in Krupanj, the first one in middle of July and the second in the beginning of September. A group of dedicated volunteers have been busy cleaning the yards of elderly people trying to restore their surroundings to what it was before the tragic floods hit the area. During two weeks, a group of local and international volunteers get together with the support of our camp leaders and gave their hands and hearts to support the local community.

This flood was an opportunity for us all. To rebuild homes, but also to rebuild connections among people, and between people and nature. We’ve been learning a lot during the flood relief activities, meeting many great people who trust each other without knowing each others’ names, this is what gives strength and inspiration for future activities of our organization.
In following pages you can read the stories of our volunteers that took part in Flood Relief WC in Krupanj. We hope you will find it inspiring.. as this stories are here thanks to YOU!

 

FLOOD RELIEF KRUPANJ

Dejan

S T O R Y: D E J A N D Ž I N I Ć
I didn’t have any special plans regarding my summer vacation this summer, so it was a pleasant surprise for me when I got asked to lead a camp that was being held in Krupanj to help out with the rebuilding after the floods that had struck the Balkans during the spring of 2014. When I arrived, I had little knowledge of the village and what exactly the situation there was, how badly it was hit by the floods and how much rebuilding we had to do.
I was greeted very nicely by the local municipality, having people from the town hall driving me around, showing me the full extent of the damages, and helping me out with setting up everything for the volunteers that were supposed to arrive shortly after I had done the same.
While there, we did our best to help rebuild. Some of the things that we did included the rebuilding of a house for a woman who lost everything in the floods, her house, her garden, and almost all of her belongings. Stacking and organizing all of the aid that had arrived from Serbia and abroad, helping refurbish the elementary school gymnasium and clearing out a playground that had been demolished by the water.

The locals were incredibly kind to us, and even went as far as inviting us to a local wedding and treating us as full-fledged guests. When we departed, they even had gifts prepared for ever y volunteer.
Seeing as it was my first time being a solo leader, I was facing a big challenge, but I believe I was able to hold my own ground and make the camp work. It was definitely the camp at which I learned the most so far, and I will always hold it dear in my heart.

 

Kasia

S T O R Y : K A S I A K A J E W S K A
It was my first experience with an international workcamp and I liked it. The issue: help after flood was very important for me, especially in Balkans. In the beginning it was a little difficult for me; first I was older than the others (after 2 days my impression has changed, the group was wonderful) and the second: the cooperation with municipality was challenging. I felt, it was still a lot of work to do, 3 months after the flood.
Meeting local people, speaking with them, watching around it could be more meaning work to do. Our leader camp Dejan was very helpful in every situation. He did what in his will. The big awareness.
By the way, thank you very much for possibility to being on this workcamp with this group of 6 fantastic people. It was amazing time, even sometimes not so easy, but precious for me.

 

This activities were supported by:
The International Class 2013-14 of East Side Institute has organised a benefit theatrical workshop where the community of the East Side Institute generously shared their support – NY, USA
Srđan Nikolić, Nevena Trakić and Lea Čikoš organised a crowdfunding initiative, that was supported by many individuals – Seattle, USA
Irimin van der Meijden (BALKAN BURO) has organized differetn events that was supported by many individuals – Amsterdam, Netherlands
SCI Bulgaria organized a fundraising event that was supported by many individuals – Sofia, Bulgaria
– SCI Switzerland organized fundraising event that was supported by many individuals – Bern, Switzerland
– SCI SAVA Working Group supported us through the SAVA small fund
– International Secretariat of SCI was generosly supporting all our activities in different ways and was raising awarnes on the situation in the Balkans on internation level

Thank you one more time for your selfless support.
Your VCV team

Full report with pictures

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