The role of NGO’s in Serbia, focussed on providing aid to the fluctuating refugee population, changes daily. The unpredictability of the political circumstances that permit or deny passage to refugees means organisations, like Miksalište, are tasked with adapting and evolving at a moment’s notice. During my time at the centre, I have been astounded by the way in which Miksalište and the volunteers / staff have been able to do this so seamlessly. In England I have too often been involved in organisations where this is not the case, where their purpose is static and cooperation is minimal. Where the needs of the organisation and those who work for it are put above the recipients of their work. At Miksalište, every project and programme comes from the bottom up, from listening to those receiving care and understanding their needs and this undoubtedly is how the organisation adapts so well to anything politics can throw at it.
I am so inspired by the resilience of every volunteer I have met during my time in Serbia, and particularly at Miksaliste. Volunteers from all corners of the world come together with hopes of helping to further projects and to build relationships. They come hoping to spread love and to support the work of the charity in so many different ways; but what they leave with is a gift far greater than one they could have hoped to give. Volunteers leave with so much more empathy and understanding, they leave with words from new languages on their tongues, with new lifelong friends and more than anything, they leave with a renewed sense of purpose. Miksalište has in all honesty, changed the way I look at the world. My time here has given me the drive to further my studies into migratory education, and to apply for a masters degree that I never thought I could achieve.
I did not come with grand Western hopes that I might do unbelievable amounts of ‘good’, but I did come with an open heart and mind; ready to learn. I can’t thank Miksalište enough for the ways in which it has affected me, and the perspective it has shown me on the ways in which my country needs to do so much more. While the whole world seems to be putting up walls, Miksalište is dismantling them. One shared smile at a time.