Two People Making a Difference – The Balkan Route

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Tovarnik, and Ilača, on the northeastern corner of Croatia.

It was past dark when we arrived on the Croatian side of the Serbian border, at Ilača. The eight-hour drive from Vienna with four volunteers from SOS Konvoi, a.k.a. “Der Geheime Kunstsalon” (The Secret Art Salon) provided an opportunity to get to know each other, talk about the experiences from their last convoy to the border area, and discuss some opinions on the refugee crisis.

As I sit writing these lines, I have been welcomed into the very clean and modest home of a middle aged Croatian couple, Martin and Nancy, I have been fed a delicious meal, given fresh sheets and a comfortable sofa to sleep on, and a password for the house wi-fi network. Nancy introduces herself as “Mama” for the volunteers, as many as twenty at a time, who have filled the house since last Wednesday, when the Hungarian border at Röszke closed and refugees were diverted to the nearby border crossing at Tovarnik.

Nancy and Martin are truly heroes in this surreality, in Europe in the year 2015. The volunteers are also heroes, young men and women between 25 and 35, most of them, who have simply organized themselves into loose and flexible groups, filled their cars and driven to make-shift camps to hand out food, clothes, tents, sleeping bags and necessities to whole families, wandering refugees and migrants. The main stream media and news has slowly awakened to cover the plight of the refugees, a tragedy which is getting worse as the weeks pass and winter approaches, while governments and larger NGO’s seem unable (or unwilling) to mobilize and provide a basic infrastructure for effective aid relief.

This is the largest refugee crisis since the second world war, and I find myself here on this border which saw some of the most brutal and savage battles during the Bosnian war just two decades ago. I see the bombed out shells which used to be houses from that time. Osijek, Vukovar, and Brčko are the names of the towns which were in the news then. Today it’s Tovarnik, Opatovič and the nearby villages with open-air make-shift camps doing what they can  to provide for the thousands of migrating refugees. It’s worthy of mention that whereas the European Union isn’t able to organize itself and provide some relief to refugees, the volunteers who are providing some relief today can rely on a roof over their heads and warm meals from people like Nancy and Martin. Two people providing some infrastructure of relief where the European Union, so far, has failed.


About christersoderberg

Living and growing up in nine countries has left strong impressions on the background of Christer Söderberg, helping to create an awareness of the impermanence in life and the uncertain value of knowledge; illustrating the paradox between knowing and what we may do well to “unlearn”. Christer has worked with companies in six countries on four continents, most recently in Brazil where between 1998 and 2002 he started a subsidiary for a Swedish Multinational. Studies in business and a lifetime of social entrepreneurship have further cemented his belief that the only thing we can change is ourselves. This lifelong endeavor expresses itself in creating the conditions for change through places, physical and virtual spaces where the individual can feel safe in him/herself; at least enough to stop, reflect and listen to the world we live in. We exist in our relationship to each other, our environment, and ourselves. Through observation and silence, preferably in close communion with nature, a “zero perspective” can help stimulate the questions surrounding our purpose and a meaningful contribution while on earth. Increased awareness of individual potential plants seeds for long-term success; Open World initiatives help awaken the hidden potential in individuals, creating new perspectives on cooperation and personal development. Increased focus and balance help provide a strong base for individual and business growth, with a deeply ingrained sense of responsibility, respect and awe for the power in nature.
This entry was posted in All, Awareness, Refugees, Resilient Humanity, Resource wars and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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