OCTOBER 27, 012There
is more to add re the Roma families: we have been given two generous
donations so yesterday we loaded up Joseph’s car and Ivan, our driver,
borrowed a delivery van. About 100 heads of
cabbage was purchased and picked up from Jelka (one of the families we
help). Also delivered were 300 lbs. of potatoes, 120 lbs. of
onions, 340 lbs. of flour, 7 good size bottles of oil, yeast, bread, ground
meat, cooking pots, jackets etc.
|Mary spent some time with Pasionka showing how to use the cooking pot and
the wooden spoons.Safet’s shoes had his toes exposed so we promised to
look and see whether we had his size available.
20, 2012: Well, we just could not stay quiet any
longer (and besides we have a few new projects to give you a report on).First the good news: a while back
we were interacting with a group of Roma gypsy families in Mostar. The
Mostar city government, Janet and OSCE (Organization for Security &
Cooperation in Europe; an international & intergovernmental organization
(USA is a member)) were at an early stage in wanting
to build units for some of those families. We did some funding and gave it a
kick forward. Now Switzerland has come up with serious funding and
made it a reality! Yeah!
|However, some of the families lost eligibility for one
reason or another. The husband in this family was killed in an auto accident.
Local authorities decided that she could return to the “family home” back
North in Bosna.There is no “family home” for this
family; it belongs to the mother in law who was not welcoming to more mouths
to feed so she met denial there.So it is back to begging on the streets of Mostar.
|We are given a new
opportunity! Janet and Joseph were also interacting with a group near
the Village of Stolac.
We met with
these families in July, 2012. The stories here represent our first 4
months of visiting.
They are Roma gypsies; the Romas’ are the stable class of the three classes
of gypsies; they have lived on this government land outside of the village for the past 10 years. This is the tale of those 4
|We are greeted with charm, stubbornness and with
puzzlement. We mention our (and their) friend Janet and that, along
with the presence of Joseph invites us into almost immediate friendship.
This group is headed by the parents, Kemo & Fadila. Six of their 10
children live on the same barren land along with the grand children. (21 in all are
| We meet Zorica with
the youngest out of 6 children in hand;
they have their own ‘shack’ as do 4 of the other
children; Zorica had removed the sides from her posts this past week
because a large snake had also taken residence there; they were not able to
capture it; it slithered out into the field. Now all 7 were living in a
tent next to the wide open shack. Two days later the strong winds and heavy
rain collapsed the tent so now the shack is in the process of being back
| Zorica’s husband has been in an
Italian jail for fighting and was serving a 3 year sentence; half of it
completed. He was found hanging by his neck this past week. The first word
was that he was dead but later clarified that he was in a 24 hour coma and
expected to survive.Gabriela sits in her
home perhaps wondering whether Tata will ever come home.Gabriela, the oldest of
Zorica’s children offers to give us a guided tour of the family homes and
how they have been all fixed up. The floor is part cement. part
|We meet Safet & Pasionka and one of their two children.|
|Then it is off to the home
of Medina, she poses with her niece Gabriela and a nephew. Medina is
single, has asthma and shares with us a list of her needed meds.
| Four of the kids
are going to school; grades 2 and 3. One on the Bosnian
side of the building; three on the Croatian side. In a later visit one of the
mothers gave us a list of needed books for the one child (Dejan).
|Then we are guided to the
home of Bisera (a single mom) and son, Dejan. Bisera, over the next
months, always has a list of needs ready for us. We listen and try to
|Bisera must have a natural flair for home decorating along
with such a love for color.
|Most of the homes have a
small wood burning stove on the inside but there is a common stove available
on the outside.
|Water has been obtained during this past year;
it is one spigot near the tree. Some of the homes have branched into
it so here we see clothes soaking in the wash tub.
|Medina, Gabriela, Mary and Fadila;
4 generations of woman power!
|Malena gathers some of the kids at her home.|
|Malena, Mirisad and baby
Saves (one out of their 3 kids) are all happy to oblige with a family portrait.
|FOUR SCHOOL KIDS.jpgWe find the school books for Dejan (rightmost) and then
find that Gabriela, Rafajel and Gabriel are using borrowed books from
the teacher that have all
the answers written in them.We find that the
local book store does copying of school books and knows the books each kid
needs. We make an order.
|All of the kids get a piece
of the action when we pass out tablets and pencils; who could refuse?
|Today we brought an assortment of balls (we put numbers on
the balls); the kids are delighted.
has left funds with Father Kevin. He passes it on to us. We utilize the
funds to buy wood for these families. We get 7 cubic meters to divide
among the 7 families. The kids are probably
thinking; we got water; now we got firewood; next our mamas are going
to try to fit us into a basin?
|Ivan, our driver, tells the men that he has a gas powered
chain saw; would they like it?It is not
working but the men still want it; “we can fix it”!Later Ivan finds two and those two get delivered.Hvala Ivan.
|Did you notice my wood
|Meet the youngest brother, Sabohidin. We find out
more throughout the months of visiting. A shy fellow; single we
thought but he might have a wife and baby in Austria.He is establishing his “own turf” in the field and has
erected a number of posts; they now need to be enclosed. In the meantime he
gets to sleep on the sofa (or under it during the rains); better than the
refrigerator side panel he was using.Do we have any construction material that we can give?
|Each visit he asks us to
walk over to his site and to admire any progress he has made. He had
erected 6 or 8 posts in the ground but the winds this past week has blown
those over; the two which had been cemented in the ground were still
standing. On our next visit all of the posts were re-erected and cemented
in.Here Sabohidin is
unfolding a sleeping bag we have brought.
|Most of the inside of the homes are so
|We look at some of the
treasures from better times
|Today Joseph has bought children’s shoes. Mary gets
the job of matching the shoes to the feet. Excitement from the kids;
gratitude from the parents.
|Alexandra has journeyed
with us today; she has brought books (and love) for the kids!
|Earlier we brought along a pup
tent and a sleeping bag for Sabohidin; a good time.
We see that progress has been made on the
Later they are blown down.
|It’s not all work.
Alexandra and Joseph and Mary and Bob try out the daily special (Gotovo Jelo)
at a village restaurant.
| New friends join us as we make another visit
to the Stolac area. We see hearts being touched.
|Joseph and friends are
waving at the photographer!
|An earlier picture of the grand parents, Kemo and Fadila.
This group had been in Sarajevo but have migrated South to this area in
search of a better life.
|We are ready to go again;
today Mary has gathered 7 jars; has filled them from our cupboard with
different pastas and grains. We have bread, sausage and fig cookies to pass out.
|The water has been heated over the camp fire; the kids are scrubbed, the day
has begun. We had brought a plastic tarpaulin and we see it is in use;
now all the families want one of those!
|Grand mama Fadila takes
advantage of the open fire to light up.
|Speaks for itself.|
|More than enough love to go
|A common bond has been established!|
|Kemo might be thinking ” I
will bet she ends up with the whole pack”!
|We have finally found boots for the four school kids;
Dejan tries his on and they fit! What a joy, what a proud boy.Joseph, Mary and I have discussed these school kids with
the local diocesan priest, Father Rajko and the two nuns in that parish.
Father teaches Religious Ed at the school and so does one of the nuns.
Sister Slava tells us that sometimes they are at the door and Sister will make
sandwiches. We are told that the kids are much cleaner and better
dressed than in previous years. Joseph for the last couple of years
has left funding with Sister to feed some poor school kids but we did not
know who. We do tell the nuns and Father that we are visiting them.Zorica had told us that she gave 15 euros to the school
at the beginning term and asked them to give her 3 kids lunch as long as
that money lasted; we estimated two weeks. Funds are left with Sister
for the kids school lunches; that will feed them into February.
|Only some of us can hope to be
Saints; others are out dancing in the fields!We brought a new school outfit for Gabriela as the ones
we brought earlier were too huge. On the last trip Gabriela had taken
Mary aside and asked for a “private” moment; then she told Mary about the
clothes. We bring food, shoes & clothes
when we have them, school supplies, shampoo etc. We listen to their
problems and have discussed their situation with OSCE in Mostar. OSCE is known and situated in most of the European countries.
Their goal is to match donor countries with those needing help in different
situations. Here that includes dealing with the displaced.
|This would be nice.||
These families need
everything. We sometimes bring a full trunk of food and detergent and
shampoo and diapers and baby food etc. They wait respectfully to be called for their
share. They ask for winter wood; they ask for better shacks with real side
boards (or plywood); they ask for medicine; they ask for anything for the
children; it does not have to be new.
|They do have a common
water spigot; we have paid the delinquent water bill. No electricity is
available, no bathroom, no outhouse or privy. An old common wood stove
which is carried inside one of the shacks during the rains or the snow. We
look back on this past winter with its 3 foot snow fall (we were stuck
inside our apartment for almost 3 weeks); now we wonder how they ever made
it through. We were not interacting with them at that time.
This would be nice.
|What are we going to try
to do? Pasionka asked Mary for a soup pot;
they ask for potatoes, flour, oil, onions.We will help with the food
as often as we can. Long term they need electricity, they need an
outhouse/s; they need better housing; the kids need to be educated; they
need love and prayers.
| We have
communicated with the American Embassy in Sarajevo and are now on their
emailing list. They will notify us of any upcoming auctions of outdoor
containers or trailers or equipment. Perhaps we can locate something
|Sarajevo also has a number of dealers in used travel
trailers; we have been asked for those for use on the families home site.
wish list?A smooth concrete pad, big enough
to place or build a common shelter. The shelter could have bathrooms,
a common kitchen, a common gathering area with tables and chairs; all
lighted with electricity.
|Ending of tale as of Oct.