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The World Media’s Assault on Serbia


 

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We’ve all heard about the crimes that Serb troops committed in Bosnia, Croatia and in Kosovo I Metohija. I’m sure some of the acts we heard and read about in the western media were true, while many of them were intentionally fabricated. Don’t get me wrong, any crime committed is a horrible thing and should be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice, but be fair!

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One example of media fabrication  would be the claim that Serbs were setting up concentration camps in Bosnia and starving the victims. This  American gentleman explains the photo in detail in this short Youtube clip.

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What about the Croats cleansing hundreds of thousands of Serbs from their birthplace? Why didn’t my media bombard me with newspaper headlines and news stories about that?

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Serbs Being Forced out of Croatia

The Serbs have been tried and convicted for war crimes in the Hague at an alarming rate. Did former Croat general Ante Gotovina and ex-special police chief Mladen Markac receive just punishment for the atrocities committed against ethnic Serbs during Operation Storm in 1995? Nope…..

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Albanian ripping cross off of a Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo

What about the Albanians destroying hundreds of homes and over 100+ churches? Did any of that make the headlines in my country? Nope….. They were friends of the US and NATO and we were about to make a lot of money off of their new “country”. Bill Clinton couldn’t allow Americans to see pics and video of our “friend” and “ally” ripping crosses off of churches. The people might have started asking a few more questions if they had.

The media doesn’t want to talk about that stuff, but they never take a break from finding things that could make the Serbs look bad.

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Take the Serb football fans who chanted derogatory things at that Brazilian football player for instance, that made headlines in every corner of the globe.  It’s sad and uncalled for, but you can’t judge an entire nation by the words of a few football fans! If we judged every nation’s citizens by the acts of football fans, you’d probably think the world was filled with demons.

Serbia shouldn’t be labeled as a country of “racists”. It’s just not true. The U.S. and England aren’t ones that should be pointing fingers and calling anyone racist. If I remember correctly, both of them took part in the slave trade. Slavery wasn’t outlawed in the United States until 1863. Hell, Blacks couldn’t even vote until the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  Did Serbia ever have slaves? No!

I’m not black so it makes little sense for me to sit here and tell you that Serbia isn’t a racist country. You should listen to some of my friends who are:

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Sheriff is a young man from Liberia who has been living in Norway for a number of years. I was able to sit down with him and ask him some questions about Serbia and if he had any issue with racism.

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Arthur is another good friend of mine. He’s an American from the great state of New Jersey. He just completed his 6 trip to Serbia and will be back in May for his 7th. Has he experienced any racism? Listen to him and find out.

 

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Dara is a lovely gal who lives in Ireland. She contacted me before her first visit with some concerns about being black in Serbia. She took the leap and loved every second of it! Here is my interview with her.

12936611_10105593675346795_5534105201918857505_nHeather is a beautiful young lady from the state of Louisiana. She has spent the last few summers in Serbia and has never had any negative situations. She said that Serbian people sometimes stare at her, but it’s a stare of curiosity, not a stare of contempt like happens in some places in the US.

There are more folks, but I didn’t get their permission to write about them. One is an African American gal who married a Serbian in a small village here in Vojvodina. She lives with her children and Serbian husband in a tiny village and has no issues with racism. There are tons of African American football players who come here each year and have nothing but great things to say about the hospitality and kindness of the Serbian people.

I’ve been living in this country for close to 6 years now and the media bias is so blatantly obvious. I’m always asking my Serbian friends how they can keep their cool and not let that get to them. It would be hard to have the whole world accusing you and vilifying you all the time. One of my friends said it best “We have gotten used to it. F*** the rest of the world. We have good looking women, good food, and great nightlife. We don’t need their approval”

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Posted by on March 5, 2017 in Through my eyes

 

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Serbian City/Town/Village Names Translated into English


 

Serbia has a lot of unique city/town/village names. A friend of mine from Republika Srpska, Hristof Romanic, decided to throw together some translations for some of them.

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Can you guess the names without cheating?

Subotica
Srbobran
Srpska Crnja
Bačka Palanka
Novi Sad
Deliblato
Crna bara
Beograd
Kurjače
Zlokuće
Valjevo
Sisavci
Velike Pčelice
Bor
Krivi Vir
Mokra Gora
Kraljevo
Zasad
Sokobanja
Ribarska Banja
Novi Pazar
Niš
Prijepolje
Žitorađa
Peć
Gornje Žabsko
Baba boks
Begunci

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2017 in Through my eyes, What others think

 

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Top 10 Things I miss About Living in Novi Sad, Serbia


 

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It’s only been two months since I left Serbia, but i’m already missing a few things. I’m spending the summer on the island of Nantucket off the coast of Massachusetts with 8 of my Serbian students to see how they work and to make some money. One of my students from Novi Sad was even featured in BLIC for his awesome  summer experience. My return flight to Serbia is scheduled for Sept 17th when I fly from NYC to Amsterdam to Belgrade. I’ll be back just in time for the world’s largest work and travel conference which will be held in Belgrade. Work and Travel Group is one of the two representatives from Serbia who will be organizing this massive event. I’ll be giving a presentation to over 600 representatives from work and travel offices all over the world.

The boys and I are constantly discussing what we miss the most about Serbia so I thought i’d throw together a quick list of the things that I miss about Serbia. Let’s get started:

10. Srpski Sir

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I’m a big fan of cheese and Serbia is home to lots of it! We have a lot of cheeses here, but the homemade stuff you find in Serbia can’t be beat. I know an American who flew to Serbia to do a documentary on cheese. From Pirot to Zlatibor to Sijenica to Vojvodina, they have awesome cheeses!

 

9. Living alone in my $130 mo apartment 

 

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I moved into my own apartment when I was 17 and only had a roommate once in my life. It’s very difficult to go from living alone to living with 6 others. I have my own room, but feel so uncomfortable having so many others in my house. You don’t know when you can use the washing machine, bathroom, when you can cook and how quiet you must be. I pay $800 a month here in Nantucket for this accommodation, while my little apartment in the heart of Novi Sad was only $130 a month.

 

8. Pekara

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Who would think you would really miss a bakery? Well….. I sure as hell do. In Serbia, you are never more than a few blocks from a bakery filled with fresh burek, jogurt, and bread. You can’t go wrong with a 100 dinar slice of burek on your way to work.

 

7. Trafika

 

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We have a lot of 24/7 stores throughout the USA, but not here on the island of Nantucket. The 24/7 trafikas in Novi Sad really had me spoiled. If you needed a soda, chips, sweets or phone credits at 4 am, no problem. The stores close at 10 here so if you forgot something, too bad.

 

6. Ajvar

 

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The first time I tried this stuff, I hated it. That was back in 2010 and now it’s one thing that I eat on a daily basis. You will find many Serbians growing lots and lots of peppers. They use them to prepare one of the most delicious condiments on the globe. You can find it in some American stores, but nothing beats the homemade ajvar that my friends bring me each fall.

 

5. Sasa Matic 

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Sasa has turned into one of my favorite Serbians.   This man has one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard. It took me a few years to get into the Serbian folk music scene, but i’m there. My favorite songs are : Kad Ljubav Zakasni, Nadji Novu Ljubav, Kralj Izgubljenih Stvari, Samo Ovu Noc, Reskiraj, Poklonite Mi Nju Za Rodjendan and almost anything else that comes out of his mouth. I listen to him each morning and on my IPOD, but miss hearing him in the bars and kafanas. My buddy is going to do his best to meet me with him.

4. Nightlife

 

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The USA has some great nightlife in certain places, but not 7 days a week like you can find in many parts of Serbia. They just recently passed an ordinance in Novi Sad that has limited the hours, but it still beats Nantucket. The Serbian people like to party and you will find the bars full  Mon-Sunday. That’s not the case here. I like to go out for a few beers after work, but many of these bars in Nantucket close at 11 or 12. The majority are almost empty after 10pm through the week. The crowds give me a burst of energy and keep me from feeling like an alcoholic. 🙂

 

3. Prices

 

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You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to go from Serbia to Nantucket which is one of the most expensive places in the USA. My average meal in a little restaurant is around $40. That usually includes a couple beers and main course. The beer is $7 in the bar that I like to go. A Serb, Macedonian and I went to this little bar by my house the other night. In one hour, we had a bill of $134!!  In Novi Sad, I could go out and have an amazing time on 1,000 dinars. Horus Nargile Bar is my daily hangout. I can smoke a nargile, drink a shot of rakija, two beers and still be under 1000. Living in Serbia with American money, can’t be beat.

 

 

 

2. Serbian summer festivals

belgrade-beer-fest-2013-reggae-rs1-950x532Serbia is home to some of the best festivals. They have Belgrade Beer Festival in Belgrade, Guca Trumpet Festival, Exit Festival in Novi Sad, Nisville Jazz Fest in Nis, Rostiljada in Leskovac,  and many many more. There is always something going on during the Serbian summer months.

 

 
1. Rostilj

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You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve dreamed of a big mixed meat platter with kajmak. The boys all miss the hell out of their meat. The first thing I’m going to do when I return on Sept 17th is hit up this great kafana in Belgrade for a big mixed meat platter! If you haven’t had Serbian rostilj, your life sucks.

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2016 in USA vs Serbia

 

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Thanksgiving for 500 in Serbia

Thanksgiving for 500 in Serbia

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Charles “The Host” Cather

The company I work for, Work and Travel Group, held the largest alumni summer work and travel event in the history of the world this past November.

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500 students from 2008-2016

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Mikser House in Belgrade

We had a massive Thanksgiving event at Mikser House in Belgrade Serbia on Thanksgiving.

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Upstairs displays

We had students from 2008-2016

We had students from 2008-2016

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Decor

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Throwing down Red Bull

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Checking in students

Work and Travel crew

Work and Travel Group crew

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Stage

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Can you feel the love?

 

Placing ribbons on each guest

Placing ribbons on each guest

 

We brought in over 500 former students from 2008- 2016 to experience an American Thanksgiving and to win some prizes.

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Students piling in

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Students having some free beverages

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Around 500 former students of summer work and travel

Once the students arrived, they were given coupons for two free alcoholic beverages and unlimited soda, juice and soft drinks. We started off serving some Serbian pies and American pie for them to snack on before our main course.

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Mixing Serbian and American foods. Serbian pie

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American apple pie

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Students enjoying some pie

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Two of my favorite students checking out the displays

We let the students mingle for an hour and then had the prize giveaway. We had the students from work and travel 2015 submit their favorite picture from their summer in the US. Once we received the photo, we placed it on our Facebook page to see which one received the most likes. The three with the most likes, received a refund of their program fee which was between $1,000 and  $1,300! The prize money came from CIEE and Work and Travel Group.

 

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Handing out prizes to the lucky winners

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The winners! Each one won their program fee back! 🙂

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Free pictures from InstaPrint

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Main course of 10 turkeys, gravy, potatoes, cranberry sauce

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Juicy turkey

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Beautifully laid out turkeys

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Students enjoying the meal

I was the host of the entire event so I had to nibble around between talking and preparing for my next presentation. I hated that part of the event because I love to eat.

After dinner, it was time to interview a few of our students about their experiences in the USA.

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Students telling about their experience in the USA

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Some great kids!

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Filip Uzelac telling about his time in St. Louis

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Sinisa Vojvodic discussing Chatham, Massachusetts

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Selecting the winners

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Congratulating the winners

The last segment of the night was another prize giveaway. Puzzle Group donated three vacation packages to be given away at random. We used a lotto wheel to randomly select a number that was on top of their ticket.

The night ended around 11pm when the buses arrived to bring the Nis and Novi Sad students back to their cities. I felt my night was successful as the host. I only had a few minor errors in my presentations. Not bad for someone who hated public speaking in high school.

We had a 5 minutes video made about the whole entire event that you can watch here.  A great time was had by all of the attendees.

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2015 in Through my eyes

 

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16 Year Old Serb Talking About Uprooting to Indonesia Because of NATO Attacks


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It’s very interesting yet horrible to hear of the struggle so many Serbians went through during the NATO attacks on their country in 1999. I was fortunate enough to discuss the story of one young Serb student whose family was forced to flee the bombing attacks of 1999. Igor Mijovic was kind enough to share some of his experiences in Indonesia.

“I was born in Belgrade in 1999 just 14 days before the start of the NATO bombing. I lived relatively a peaceful and fun childhood, I was never bothered with my family’s money issues, we didn’t have much but I was happy with the way things were, of course I was unaware of the real state of things with my dad’s job and how it was all falling to pieces. When my parents announced we were moving to Indonesia it hit me like a dagger to the heart. I was leaving all of my friends and family behind, going not only to another country, but to another continent I knew nothing or very little about. For me the worst part was that I would be unable to communicate with other people since I thought my English was way below the level of those kids that went to an international school. At first my months at my new school were awful, everything was so different from what I was used to, and everyone whispered about that tall Serbian guy who came from an unknown land, they could not bully me because I was too big for them, I was just ignored and I kept telling myself that this whole nightmare will be over soon, that I don’t need these new people in my life and that I will be back in my beloved country once again. It all changed though when I met a Canadian guy who spent an evening with me and that’s when it all started for the better. I met people from loads of different countries, shared stories and began to change mentally and emotionally. I realized not everything was as I thought, at this time I found Charles Cather’s first video on youtube and it really helped me fight my nostalgia, I’ve watched every one since. After 4 years I made tons of friends from all kinds of backgrounds, but it was not to last, since I was to move to my country once again. It was my choice, since I was old enough to be semi-responsible, but getting something means leaving something else behind. I had to leave all those dear friends I made and return to those I haven’t seen for years. Honestly living in an international community helped to change me for the better and I decided I won’t hate on anyone before I have a good talk with them and get to know their story. I’m planning on studying history and maybe becoming and international teacher to travel around. ”

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Charles:  What were your first impressions of Indonesia?

Igor:  I expected it to be like those Chinese cities you see in movies, lots of tall buildings with flashing signs in unknown letters. I was surprised at what I saw though, the air was humid and hard to breathe, there is a huge difference between lower and high class, with no middle class. There was very little bread and red meat and the way people acted was very strange, I’ve never experienced that much respect and awe of white people in my life.

Charles:  What did you miss the most about Serbia?

Igor: Well for the first year or so it was my friends and my relatives I missed the most until I actually started making international friends. Food was also a pain to get used to. It’s not the usual asian food we eat in the west, lots of rice, many spices we haven’t even heard of, fruits that taste very strange compared to kajsija and shljiva :D. But most of all it was the freedom, I couldn’t walk around and go exploring, I couldn’t hug or kiss my friends in public. It was mostly the staying at home all the time that tortured me the most.

 

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Charles: Where the locals respectful of your faith since it’s a Muslim country?

Igor: Indonesians are a very religious people, no matter what religion they are, they dismiss facts and other pleasures of life in order to be that much closer to their god. I myself am an atheist, I did enjoy celebrating my country’s many traditions and festivities, but that stuff was hard to come by. I did get looks of curiosity but sometimes even disgust and hate for not being a religious person, mostly from radical muslims and christians. My first year at school had mandatory religion and they had Protestant, Catholic, Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim, and I couldn’t find a place there, so I went with the protestants (one of my worst decisions since all we learnt about is how only they are right and true and everyone else is false).

Charles: Any similarities between the cultures?

Igor: The cultures are very different. The only things I found similar is the fact that they were under colonial rule for most of the time we were under Ottoman occupation.

 

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Charles: What were the biggest differences in culture that you had a hard time adjusting to?

Igor: Indonesians have everything the opposite of Serbia, they are very radical religious, have more than 300 ethnic groups within the country, some even warring with each other. They don’t like to show emotions, believe in ghosts and spirits too much and due to the lack of education (with every school having to be paid for, and millions in poverty having no money for it) lack basic knowledge and intelligence. It also takes much longer to reach to them and get close to them as friends, than it would with a western person. In the end they proved to be just as good and fun as my Serbian friends.

Charles: Had most people heard of Serbia? If so, what were their impressions?

Igor: Most Indonesians didn’t know what I was talking about when I said Serbia, but when I said Yugoslavia they usually nodded their heads and said things like “Long live Tito, Indonesia’s friend!”, I didn’t really feel like explaining to them that he’s dead and that everything changed. People in my school never showed much interest in my country, most thought its a warzone still, laughed at my opanci and asked me to say random things in Serbian. I tried my best to show Serbia in a good light, and how civilised it is compared to Indonesia, for me that was a must when it came to discussing my country.

This is one story of thousands of Serbs who were displaced throughout the 90’s. 5366_10200496493149514_460826202_n

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2015 in Through my eyes

 

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My Emergency Visit to a Serbian Dentist


dentist No one in their right mind enjoys a visit to the dentist. I have a horrible fear of the dentist. Just thinking about the sound of the drill and the smell of the dentist office, makes the hair on the back of my neck start standing. I have had several impacted molars that my old dentist back home told me to remove, but I never did. I didn’t have the time, money nor courage to do so. That was a mistake! You should never let your dental issues drag on and on because they will only get worse. The last time I visited a dentist prior to this Serbian dentist was 2013 ! He  told me that my back molar was going to need some attention in the very near future. I was about to head back over to Serbia so I just asked them to give me an estimate on what the repairs would cost. The two cavities were going to cost around $230 a piece and the “possible” root canal would be $1,100! No way was I going to spend $2000 before I left for Serbia. They would have to wait! dentist1 Fast forward to December of 2014. I was eating some chocolate cake and it felt like a hammer had just been slammed down on my back molar! The pain was massive. I thought if I just  started avoiding that side of the mouth when I was chewing the pain would go away,  but it didn’t help. I had to find a dentist! I remembered a doctor had contacted me on Facebook a few months prior. He had mentioned that his girlfriend was a dentist and they were interested in getting into the “Dental tourism” business. I searched through my messages and found him. They told me to come over the next day so they could examine the tooth! That doesn’t happen very often back home! DSC_0289_1024x681 The office was very close to the center of Belgrade and was easy to find from the bus stop. I really had no idea what to expect from a Serbian dentist’s office, but it sure wasn’t the clean, modern office that I found. DSC_0288_1024x681 My dentist, Dr. Mirjana Filipovic,  was even a beautiful young woman who didn’t invoke instant fear in me like my other dentists. 🙂 She sat me down and asked me a little about about my problems. I apologized for eating some burek on the way over! 🙂 I can only imagine how nasty that was for her! 🙂 She found the issue and told me exactly what all I needed to have done. The cavities were 25E and the root canal that was a MUST, would be 100E. I couldn’t hardly imagine that would be possible. What was she going to use? Rusty pliers? Old, outdated equipment? She showed me all the tools that she would be using and even explained everything in detail to me.  All of their products and instruments come from Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Japan, just like my dentist back in the USA. She told me that most dentists use the old silver colored fillings instead of the white ones because they are cheaper. She ONLY uses the white ones and doesn’t charge an extra fee like most other dentists. She had me sold! 🙂 DSC_0622_1024x681 She started in on her work after giving me a few shots of something that numbed my entire mouth. She would constantly ask me if something hurt or if I felt anything uncomfortable. I felt NOTHING! She explained the roots in each tooth and how the root canal would be done. She opened both teeth and placed some meds in them before sealing them off. She said that I would need to return in one week.  ROUND 1… Complete with NO PAIN! debut I left the dentist’s office to shoot 8 hours of video for a  kitchen products company in Hong Kong! Thank God I was able to talk. My final round started the morning before I was heading to Uzice, Serbia for a speaking engagement in front of a few hundred students. The doctor met me by Sveti Sava church and told me that we would need to go next door for some x-rays of my teeth. We walked into a beautifully decorated office with a pretty young lady behind the desk. She took me right into the x-ray room, snapped the x-rays, and handed them to me within 5 minutes. The cost? Only 10E!!!  The lady was impressed with my few bits of Serbian that I uttered on the way out of her office. DSC_0620_1024x681 We bring the x-rays to the dentist for her to examine. She told me that there shouldn’t be any pain this time because the roots were dead. She was exactly right! The worst pain out of this whole entire project was the shots that she gave me in my mouth and it was only a little prick. I was amazed that a root canal could be done without any pain at all! The little devices that she had to shove down in the tooth looked horrible, but you couldn’t feel anything.  She finished up the procedure and told me that I could eat anytime I wanted to because she had heard my stomach growling. We all sat down over a coffee and discussed this whole procedure and how expensive it was in the USA. They told me that they can do porcelain caps and teeth replacement within 24-48 hours for around 120E too!  I told them that I wanted to use my outreach to bring them more businesses. We called my good friend, Boris Marunic (video producer from Belgrade), and asked him to help us with a short little video! Check it out by clicking here!  I can get you a dental price quote within 24 hours of you contacting me. If you have some dental procedures that you have been putting off, contact me asap!  You could fly over here, take some  exciting tours and get your teeth fixed and still pay less than you will at your dentist! Sound too good to be true? It isn’t! Everything is possible in Serbia 🙂 You have nothing to lose except thousands of dollars at your dentist 🙂 U.S. dentist was going to be around $1900 for all the work I had done while I got it done here for $150. Serbia wins this battle against the USA by saving us an enormous amount of money and time! 🙂

 
21 Comments

Posted by on March 15, 2015 in Price difference

 

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Spreading Love from Wales to Serbia


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Back in the summer of 2013…….  I had the honor of meeting the wonderful crew from “Operation Florian” who provide donated fire equipment to Serbia and other countries around the world.  Haydn Brown, a representative from Operation Florian,  had mentioned that there was another organization from Wales that was doing some AWESOME things in Serbia too. A few weeks later I received a message from them! They had a catchy name “Blazing to Serbia“! We agreed to meet up at the mall in Belgrade, Serbia when they arrived. charWe sat for a few hours discussing our lives, our connection to Serbia and the foundation of the amazing “Blazing to Serbia” organization.   “Blazing to Serbia” has visited Serbia on 12 occasions taking various items of equipment from the South Wales Fire & Rescue Service. The equipment provided includes 93 Gas Tight Chemical suits, over 300 Breathing Apparatus sets and cylinders, approximately 30 sets of hydraulic rescue equipment, over 300 sets of protective fire kit and helmets and various other items used at road traffic collisions, lines and torches.The most amazing part is the 18 fire trucks that they have driven down here and donated to many different cities in Serbia!  It is rare to find such kind and giving folks who have no ties to Serbia, but who have such a passion to help the country and its people!!  The ONLY thing that they are asking from all of us, is to help keep this wonderful organization going by clicking “LIKE” on their Facebook page!

I sat down to interview the leader of the “Blazing to Serbia” crew, Steve Logan! Here is what I found out:
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1. What is “Blazing to Serbia?

A. Blazing to Serbia is an initiative of the South Wales Fire & Rescue Service, whereby a small group of volunteers acquire Fire Service vehicles and equipment and then donate them to the Fire Services in Serbia.

 

 

2. Who does it consist of and why did they join?

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A. The Blazing to Serbia team is made up of Operational Firefighters from across South Wales, together with former Young Firefighters and friends.

 

3. Out of all the countries out there, how did you choose to assist Serbia?

A. Serbia was selected by accident. Due to my involvement with the Young Firefighters scheme, which operates all across South Wales, I decided to get myself a youth working qualification. On the course with me was a Scout leader who had recently returned from Serbiawith a group of Scouts. Whilst there they had visited a Fire Station and found that the fire engines were really old. He then asked at what age the trucks were replaced in South Wales and so the seed was sown. This was September 2006 and in March 2007 we made our first visit to Serbia.

 

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4. What did you guys know about Serbia before making your first trip here?

A. Yes I knew that Serbia was part of the former Yugoslavia and had a vague knowledge of the recent Balkan conflict. Other than that I didn’t know anything at all.

 

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5. Tell me a bit about your first impressions of Serbia when you first arrived here. How does it differ from Wales?

A. Coming from Pontypridd at the foot of the South Wales Valleys, I was used to mountains and hills all around, but the part of Serbiathat we visited was really flat, so this surprised me. But the thing that I remember most is how friendly and welcoming the people were.

 

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6. How do you guys get your funding, donated vehicles, etc?

A. In order to get the vehicles and equipment form the South Wales Fire & Rescue Service, I gave presentations to the Senior Officers and the politicians who make up the Fire & Rescue Authority. After much persuasion they agreed to support Serbia for a fixed period of time. This period has now expired, so the arrangement that we had is now being reconsidered.

In order to transport the vehicles and equipment to Serbia the team carry out various fund raising events, like packing people’s bags in supermarkets, sponsored events, raffles and social functions. Without the good will and commitment of the Blazing to Serbia team, these fund raising events would not be possible.

The first convoy of 6 fire trucks that we drove to Serbia in 2011 was accompanied by a television crew from our National television station ITV Wales, who documented the journey. This documentary, called ‘Blazing to Serbia, was shown on National TV in November 2011. This documentary can still be seen on our web site www.blazingtoserbia.co.uk Because of the involvement of television, we were able to gain sponsorship for each of then trucks, which made the task of fund raising much easier.

 

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7. How do you determine which city will get a fire engine?

A. Because the Serbian Interior Ministry is best placed to see where the trucks will be most useful and where they are most needed, we donate the trucks to them and they then allocate them accordingly.

 

 

8. What is the funniest story that you could tell us about all of your times in Serbia?

A. It won’t come as too much of a surprise to know that rakija leads to lots of funny situations, but a generally good example can be found on You Tube, just search for Tom Mac Fishing joke.

 

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9. What do you see in the future of “Blazing to Serbia?

A. Fire Services across the UK are experiencing serious budgetary shortfalls and South Wales is no exception. Because of this the future of Blazing to Serbia is in the balance as Senior Officers and Politicians decide whether to sell the trucks, or continue to donate them to Serbia.

Outside of the trucks and equipment, the team has also been working with the Serbia Red Cross at Sremska Mitrovica. The team has helped with the provision of clothing, blankets, shoes and gifts for children and hygiene packs for families. We are also working with two animal rescue centres at Nis and Sremska Mitrovica.

So to answer your question, the future of Blazing to Serbia is uncertain in its current format, but if trucks & equipment is not available, then we will concentrate on other things. However, it would be a shame if we were not able to donate any more trucks, as the trucks also allow us to bring lots of donations to Serbia, at no additional cost.

In July, my future son-in-law James Randell, did an open air concert in the square in Ruma. A couple of weeks ago he did one in Sremska Mitrovica and a second one in Ruma. The concerts in Ruma have been to raise money for the Ruma Rotary Club and for a Bowel Cancer Charity. This is certainly something that we will be doing more of.

There is a saying that goes, “Charity, like its sister mercy is twice blessed, it blesses him that gives and him that takes.” The experience of driving across Europe in a fire truck and being able to make a positive difference in people’s lives has certainly made an impact on me and influences my thoughts and the way that I lead my life. This would be the same for the other team members too. Young people in theUK very often get a very bad press, so the fact that Blazing to Serbia has lots of young people who are thinking of others, often before themselves, can only be a good thing and benefit communities in Serbia and in Wales.

 

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10. I really loved to hear about your little shoe boxes for the kids. Didn’t you run into some issues with customs last time? How did the kids react to them?

A. In December 2013, we sent a lorry load of equipment, ladders and clothes to Serbia. Whilst we were collecting these goods, I thought that it would be nice if we could send some gifts out for the children. I messaged the Red Cross at Sremska Mitrovica and they agreed that this would be a great idea. The team then set about collecting and filling 268 shoe boxes, with gifts for needy children. The contents of the shoe boxes varied, but contained items such as coloured pens & pencils, felt pens, crayons, chalk, calculators, note pads,colouring books, soap, shampoo, toothbrushes and toothpaste and toys, puzzles and sweets of every different type.

The Serbia Customs Service is always a challenge, but thankfully we are always able to resolve things eventually.

The intention was for us to visit a couple of weeks later and then help the Red Cross to distribute the shoe boxes. However, the shoe boxes did not clear customs until we had left the country, but the photographs that we saw ensured that the effort that we made was worthwhile.

Seventeen of the team visited Serbia 4th – 8th November and brought just over 400Kg of gifts and hygiene products with us. These were made into gift bags and we spend two days with the Red Cross, distributing them to needy children. This is an experience that will not only live with us for the rest of our lives, but will also influence the way that we lead our lives. Everyone was so happy to see us and were extremely grateful for our support and concern.

 

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11. How can all of us that read this article help ensure that your awesome organization … continues? Is there something that we can do?

We really need people to visit the Blazing to Serbia Facebook page and give it a LIKE. We then need people to SHARE it with their friends and ask them to like & share it too.

Follow us on Twitter @BlazingToSerbia

On our web site we have a section for ‘Our Followers’. If there are any Serbian Celebrities, Politicians etc out there who would like to give us a photograph and some words of support to put in this section, it would be great.

We need to raise the profile of Blazing to Serbia in Wales & in Serbia, so any sort of media coverage would be great.

 

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2014 in Through my eyes, What others think

 

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