War Island

Last saturday I went with Maciek, Lana to a daytrip to War Island organized by our friends of the Belgrade Alternative Guide. Despite the name of the island, it is a peaceful piece of land between the rivers Saba and Danube and today just hosts a dozen of houses for the people who take care of the island. With no electricity and not current water, its inhabitants make of thouse houses their “second residence” for the summer or their main office to take care of the island.

We had a wonderful morning and we enjoyed our short trip on the boat to the island and our walk through it. Well, Maciek was attacked several times by a crazy hawk but he managed to survive :) We were around 20 people from many different nationalities and really had a good time until the weather changed completely and wind and light rain appeared. Then, all our thoughts were being around a nice cup of tea in our warm house in Vracar.

Anyway, we had a good time there and can’t wait for the next daytrip with the BAG. In the mean time, these pictures of our trip will be enough.

“Being a refugee is very hard”

The title of this post may seem obvious to everyone who reads it. But when you hear that directly from a refugee from Kosovo trying to survive in 21st century Macedonia it makes you tremble.

Last weekend I have been visiting some friends in Skopje. One of them (another EVS volunteer) told me she knew a refugee from Kosovo and she told me we could meet him and interview him. He lives in Shutka, the first town in the world governed by Roma. After a short trip by bus and a quick visit to the local market we met him. It turned out he was a very interesting, talkative guy who was not shy or afraid to talk about his situation.

He (let’s name him K. from this point) told us he has been rejected in the three judicial stages as a refugee so he is now an illegal alien in Macedonia. The Court said that the situation in Kosovo has improved and that his life and the one of his relatives are not in danger so they cannot get the status of refugees anymore. K told us quite a different view: Even when the situation has improved, it is still not safe for him or his relatives to go back to where they lived because they could be in danger and, furthermore, they lost their houses and all their posesions when they left. Now, he and his family are under the protection of the UNHCR but they cannot get a job, study, or travel somewhere else. K is a very polite person, speaks 4 different languages, play the piano and he is interested in Computer Sciences but his future is as uncertain as his present. He dreams with going to Switzerland to study but the chances to do it depend not on his decision but on someone else.We wish him all the best. Keep in touch and good luck!

Why did you choose Serbia?

This is one of the most asked questions that I hear when I meet someone. My answer is that I chose Serbia first because of the project itself although the History of the Balkans was quite interesting for me.

My personal project in MEC is a documentary about the situation of the serbian refugees from other parts of former Yugoslavia and IDP’s (Internal Displaced People) from Kosovo. I am interested in learning about their living conditions and showing to the public the faces that represent the next facts:

– The Republic of Serbia holds the largest population of refugees of Europe.

– There are 86.000 registered refugees (5.500 of them in colective centers) and 210.00 IDP’s (this ones, the last data available is from 10 years ago). Besides, there are 20.000 displaced inside Kosovo.

– United Nations thinks that the main problems that refugees and IDP’s suffer are the restitution or compensation for the ocupation or tenancy rights of their properties, along with the high unemployment (33% acording to Serbian government) and  the lack of documentation (44% do not have any documents).

– There are 17.000 apatrides in the Republic of Serbia.

– In Kosovo the lack of housing is one of the main problems, although dificult access to education and restrictions to free of movement are not irrelevant issues.

– The 10% of the resident population never lived in Serbia before 1992.

(Source: UNHCR Global Appeal 2010-2011 and Comisariat for the Refugees of the Republic of Serbia)

Sometimes data looks just like data. The good thing about media is that we have the tools to give a human aspect to all these numbers. And that is why I chose Serbia.

“That wasn’ t exactly a green light”: Trip to Avala Mountain

Yesterday Lael, Aurelie, Maciej and I went to Avala Mountain.  The day started with a breakfast at Excaliburek where we had some really good (and not greasy) burek with meat and a expresso.  After that, and after dealing with some not-so green lights and crazy traffic in Belgrade, we arrived to Avala.

Well, this is the homage to the unknown soldier (or to the soviet soldier, depending on the sign you are reading) and unfortunately we did not enjoy such good weather like in this picture. Although it was not a very cold day in Belgrade, it was still quite cold up there and we dealt with snow and wind. Anyway, the sights were worth the visit and we always can go back in spring and summer.

After Avala we went to Aurelie/Lael’ s house and enjoyed a wonderful vegetarian meal prepared by Aurelie.

This week I will go to Skopje so see you next Monday with new adventures and more stamps on my passport!!!

Impress your new serbian friends – Learn their “Happy Birthday” song

If you ever have the chance to come to Serbia you might be eventually invited to a birthday party. Everything will be familiar to you except their “happy birthday” song. It has neither the same words in serbian nor the same melody. I am offering you the lyrics but unfortunately I couldn’t find the melody on the Internet but you can always ask Suncica and Sonja tu sing it a capella for you :)

There it goes:

Danas nam je,

divan dan (x3)

Našem (m) / Našoj (f) _________ (name of your friend– in dative case)

Rođendan

Živeo (m)/ Živela (f) x2

Srećan nam bio (m)/bila (f)

Živeo! (m) / Živela! (f)

Zelim… da ne zelim da idem odavde = I wish not to wish to leave from here

Hi everyone! It’s been three months since I got to Belgrade and when I look back I realize I have had a lot of experiences. I already feel Belgrade like my hometown (even when I still get lost in here), Molerova is my home adress and the Dirty Mind Quintet is my (main) band.

There are 6 months ahead of us and it seems that this Balkan period is going to be one of the most importants.

I could review what I did but I am just looking forward: start the doccumentary about refugees, travelling to Macedonia, Croatia, Rumania, Hungary, Kosovo, Albania and why not, Moscow, speaking short conversations in srpski, playing live more often, receiving friends from Andalusia, eating more sarma, pljeskavicas, cebapcici, that red thing with beans, kupus, ….. and many many other things.

Now I gotta go to the library to study so this time there are not pictures to show. Well, you can check this out at least ;-) :

Vidimo se!