Two members of ACT UK (Mohanji ACT Foundation) and two volunteers of ACT Serbia (Fondacija ‘ACT Foundation’) spent several days in Kosovo in the 2nd half of October 2015 where they joined hands with a reputable charity from UK, Hope and Aid Direct, to deliver 36 tons of aid in 5 trucks to Roma, Serbian, Albanian and other needy recipients in Kosovo.
Intense but deeply fulfilling work started right away. ACT contributed with 2 tons of aid and sincere assistance in this beautiful humanitarian mission to Kosovo.
After two days of sorting of the cargo (not easy at all considering the tons and tons of cargo), the actual distribution started yesterday – food, clothes, shoes, blankets, games, nappies, etc. were distributed to needy people in several schools and ‘collective centres’, i.e. places taken over by homeless people.
They also visited some very poor families living in austere conditions. The below photos and testimonials say it all
How this initiative came to life
Vijay Ramanaidoo, ACT UK: “About two years ago, during devastating floods in Serbia, ACT UK members approached a charity called Hope and Aid Direct to give us some advice on transferring aid to Serbia by lorry as they had been sending convoys of Lorries for many years to various places in the Balkan region. They were very helpful in providing some contacts but we eventually used the Serbian embassy to fly the aid to Serbia. However, the first contact was made.
When their main pasta supplier was no longer able to help them they approached us to see if we could help with providing food. We managed to get together one ton of food which they took to Montenegro. http://actfoundation.org/?p=1792). At the time I said to Charles, the founder of the charity, that we would like to accompany them on a trip in the future.
Sincere ACTs of service in Kosovo
We got this opportunity to travel with the Hope and Aid Direct team when they went to Kosovo this month (Oct 2015). With the generosity of ACT Foundation members we managed to get together two tons of food, mainly baked beans, black eyed beans, kidney beans, soups, chick peas and tinned vegetables.
This food was taken along to Kosovo along with 34 tons of aid from Hope and Aid Direct which included school books and materials, shoes, trainers, blankets, men’s clothes, women’s clothes, handbags, towels, new fleeces, jumpers, toiletries, cleaning materials and many other items in 5 lorries. It took the team about four days to travel from the UK to Pristina. The rest of the group travelled by plane to Pristina.
When we arrived in Pristina, we met up with the group and fellow ACT Foundation Serbia members (Milos and Branko) who had travelled by bus from Belgrade the previous day.
The rest of the group was a very broad mix of people, some of them were representatives of other charities but all of them had a common desire to help the less fortunate and had given up their time to come and help.
During the 5 days we were there we helped in unpacking the lorries, rearranging them in the warehouse and then repacking the smaller 7.5 ton lorries ready for distribution the next day. Three 7.5 ton lorries were packed each day and they were sent on their way to different areas of Kosovo.
On the first day we visited a number of schools to distribute school books, pens, crayons and school equipment. As soon as we arrived at a location the children would surround us giving us high fives and huge smiles. However the conditions of some of the schools were really awful. Windows broken, wood burners in the classrooms generating smoke and fumes, walls and floors in poor condition, half broken tables and chair with just a blackboard. The toilets were in a really poor condition.
On subsequent days we visited ‘collective centres’ where people who were homeless or victims of the war were sheltered. These centres would consist of one room per family. The room would be the size of a normal double bedroom and there would be as many as four of five people living in the one room which served as kitchen, dining room, sitting room and bedroom. The toilets and wash facilities were in absolutely terrible condition.
At each of the collective centres we would distribute a large 16 kg bag of pasta along with two boxes of food, clothing, blankets and toiletries. Families would come along from far and wide with a wheelbarrow to take away the goods. Some had travelled more than a mile to get to the distribution point. At all places we went to the people were very well behaved and patient, apart from one or two exceptions.
The work required to pack and unpack the lorries, fill the boxes and moving them was very hard work physically. The scenes of poverty and desolation in some of the areas was emotionally very draining for the volunteers but obviously far worse for the people who had to live in these conditions.
However we all felt very enriched by the service that was carried out, the spirit of camaraderie, mutual help and sharing plus the good company of all the volunteers. It was a wonderful experience.
When the team heard that I conduct meditation sessions, I was asked to conduct one at the hotel where we had a very moving and beautiful Power of Purity meditation session for 6 volunteers. The experiences that we had on this trip were truly amazing. It has been such a wonderful privilege to serve and to be part of this beautiful service. Our love and gratitude goes to Baba and Mohanji who blessed us with this privilege.
Testimonial of Jay Jeyaseelan from ACT UK:
“The very first day, I felt the oneness within the team and felt truly happy that all of us were there to do selfless service to the needy. Definitely, I was blessed in my past life to take part in a service project like this – thank you Mohanji for your kind blessings, without you, nothing would have happened.
We delivered aid to several schools and collective centres. The children and the families were very humble and grateful to receive the aids. Surely, all the clothes we gave will help them keep warm during this cold winter.
This was a humbling emotional experience which I will never forget. When you see almost 40 families living in a block of run down flats (one room for each family with 4 or 5 members) with 3 common toilets (dreadful conditions) and one bathroom with cold water, your emotions will be tested. When you see very energetic children who want to study and look for a better future sitting in a ruined building with broken windows and no heating, your heart will melt!”
Branko and Milos, ACT Serbia volunteers, who spent 6 days in Kosovo said this was “one of the most profound and transforming experiences of their lives.”
Great job guys – it is beautiful to see how deeply you were touched by the magical beauty of selfless service.