Nestled in the hills overlooking Belgrade sits a four-story building in a residential neighborhood. The street offers a gorgeous view of the Temple of Saint Sava. The streets are quiet except for the occasional sound of children playing in the yard.
This building is one of six centers run by Zvecanska Orphanage. Most of the children here are younger than twelve years old. I will never forget the first time I visited this place. It left such an impression on my heart that I promised to return.
I first visited this orphanage two years ago. I remember the precious smiles on the children’s faces as one of their caregivers, a beautiful woman perhaps in her fifties, waved and spoke to them through the window of their nursery. Her love for the kids was as evident as their whole-hearted love for her.
Just last month, I found myself in this same building, with my mother, my two brothers, and a lovely friend of mine who volunteers at this orphanage.
We met with one of the orphanage’s managers, who gave us a short lesson on the technicalities of the adoption process in Serbia. She also told us about the greatest needs of the orphanage and ways in which Serbs and other charitable individuals can help the orphanage.
We left the orphanage unable to interact with the children, unfortunately. We were able to greet the children briefly as they walked to their afternoon snack time, but that was the full extent of our interaction with them. While we had hoped to spend some time playing with the kids, we learned that the orphanage staff prefers to have only long-term volunteers interact with the kids so the children have some feeling of permanency in their relationships. It is perhaps easier on their emotions this way.
But despite being unable to play with the kids while on vacation in Belgrade, it turns out there are other direct ways in which a Serbian-American family like ours on vacation in Serbia can really help this orphanage. The manager with whom we met told us that the orphanage was in need of donations of shampoo, body wash, and baby wipes. Bridges to Serbia and the Law Office of Predrag Filipovic were able to provide over 200 Euros worth of such supplies to the orphanage just a few days later.
Bridges to Serbia would like to thank Miss Ana Marija Franc for her help coordinating the contact between our organization and the orphanage. A talented musician, Ana Marija plays the harp in front of almost every audience in Belgrade—from residents of a home for the blind to groups of professional musicians and these precious orphans at Zvecanska.
Bridges to Serbia would also like to thank the Law Office of Predrag Filipovic for contributing donations to this effort. BTS would especially like to acknowledge managing partner and owner at IFight4Justice Law Office of Predrag Filipovic for coordinating and facilitating the purchase and delivery of the donations. The success of this project relied heavily on Mr. Filipovic’s big heart for the Serbian people—for which Bridges to Serbia is very thankful.