Volunteer story from Miki Ilić!
Like most others, before arriving at Miksaliste I didn’t know what to expect. I had heard of the crisis on the news and seen the refugees at the parks, but I never dug any deeper into the whole situation. Yet somehow, before I knew it, a series of events led me to Mostarska 5. Towards the end of November the weather was grim and it was obvious that the refugees felt the same. At that point in time the majority of people coming through Afghani men, not much older than I was. It was hard to entirely comprehend the stories I was being told and the things I was seeing. They looked extinguished, yet in their eyes and their tones that undeniable sense of hope was present. After the first day came the second, then the third and after that this sense of obligation took over and every morning I was waking up with Miksaliste on my mind. This got to the point where even taking a Sunday off left me with the feeling of guilt in my stomach. We went through our daily jobs; distribution of food, clothing, tea, razors, banana freeze and of course, my personal favorite, shoes. They thanked us and gave us our (a volunteers) most valuable payment, their smiles. Those smiles, after all that they had been through to get to Belgrade, were more than any of us could ask for. Nevertheless, the days went on, the weather got colder and the faces, both volunteer and refugee, changed constantly. Honestly, I’ve met some of the most amazing volunteers during this time. People who come from all over the world and all kinds of backgrounds. People who have paused their lives to come help those in need. It is an astonishing thing, and it is always a bit upsetting when they decide to continue on with their journey, whatever it may be. Since I began much has evolved in Miksaliste, as well as with the refugee crisis as a whole. Every day new rules and regulations are passed by the Schengen countries, and every day is one enormous question mark for the people coming through Serbia. Today we try to do our best to help in any way possible, even though many of the refugees are not SIA. This complicates things a bit for them, and sadly as the days pass things are seeming to become more and more tense. Yet, we still manage to see the smiles and that is exactly what drives us to push forward, regardless of the difficulties we may be having with any aspect of the situation. The crisis continues and I’m coming to the realization how in disastrously bad shape a decent portion of the world is. It really is impossible to imagine oneself leaving everything behind to venture off into a world that is completely foreign. But I’m glad that in Belgrade they feel comfortable and that even a little place like Miksaliste can make someone’s implausible journey seem even slightly more plausible.