Written by Biljana Vozarevic
Sangaj is a Romani (also known by the exonym “Gypsy”) settlement situated in the industrial zone in the suburbs of Novi Sad. Instead of clean air they breathe the exhaust fumes of NIS Petroleum Industry of Serbia and other companies in the working zone North 4. Nobody with awareness of what it is that they take into the lungs with each breath would live there voluntarily. Red and white tower from the refinery which other citizens of Novi Sad watch from afar can be almost touched by Sangaj inhabitants. Ecology-wise, inhabitants of Sangaj are already underprivileged.
Members of “ACT Foundation” with all the volunteers are not able to clean that air, but we have been given an opportunity to help individuals from Sangaj in another way. We organised a donation of that which is, besides air, substantial for survival and what they surely are missing – food.
Our charity initiative on 23rd Feb 2014 was a beautiful way of celebrating the birthday of Mohanji, Founder of ACT. When a good team, enthusiastic mood and excellent organisation joined together, like a powerful wave they intensified positivity in our surroundings, so benefits are felt by even those who are not in direct contact with us. With pure heart we gave the gifts to those who needed them most, and today the recipients were the most impoverished families without any income or social help in Sangaj.
Gratitude to Ms Marijana Pavlovic who helped us identify the needy families and do the required coordination in line with our procedures designed to ensure recipients of aid are eligible for the same.
We prepared packages of food for 10 families. Each package contained flour, sugar, oil, corn grits, pasta, biscuits, juice, potatoes, onions… Aside from the purchased food packs, ACT volunteers brought their own packages of food. Furthermore, we donated clothes and toys and the final contribution ended up being was a beautiful loving gift for the needy. One little girl was very enthusiastic about a doll she received as a present. Her face lit up and she immediately started playing with it, chirping with joy, even though the house was full of people unknown to her.
One of the aid recipients was a woman called Marijana, age 38. She is a mother of 12 children, the oldest being 19 years old and the youngest one being 7 months old. She is slim and youthful though she certainly cannot afford any creams for her skin or any anti-aging products. She lives on the verge of existence and but one could never make out that life is hard for her – she does not invoke any sympathy. Each one of them faces numerous problems of daily existence, but there is a sort of heroism out of necessity in that struggle for survival. Her husband does rough physical jobs that he finds in newspaper ads. He carries various loads, or works at the construction sites in Novi Sad. These jobs come sporadically. They all have health insurance but they do not receive any social help. Their grown-up children have started to contribute with their own efforts in a way they can.
It was truly wonderful meeting these people. We are grateful for this opportunity to help and make somebody’s life beautiful at least temporarily and experience the joy of giving.
This initiative was beyond mere donating – it was an offering with love during which both sides benefit. By feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, shoes to the barefooted, clothes to the naked, we bring life where there is slumber and colors where everything is grey. We disperse the darkness, anger and lethargy as the light does not ask whom to illuminate, it gives unconditionally.
ACT Serbia team