Today we drove from Belgrade, Serbia to Kostajnica, Republika Srpska. You can see Beograd (Belgrade) to the right side of the picture, and Kostanjnica (which is not shown because it's TINY) is marked with the pin.
It was a beautiful day for the drive! Of course, I have to take pictures of some "stuff" along the way!
Like the memorial to the Jasenovac Concentration camp in Croatia. Between the day it opened in 1941, and it's evacuation in 1945, between 45,000-52,000 resident Serbs, between 12,000-20,000 Jews, 15,000-20,000 Roma (gypsies) and between 5,000-10,000 ethnic Croats and Muslims were murdered. Additionally, the Croation authorities murdered between 320,000-340,000 ethnic Serb residents of Croatia and Bosnia. This memorial, sitting on the site of Jasenovac, represents those lives lost.
We crossed where the Una an Slava rivers come together. It's a beautiful area.
And stork nests. These are huge! For those watching the Decorah, Iowa eagles, this is about the same size.
When we arrived in Kostajnica, we met up with some of Mary's extended family. This is her 1st cousin Gloria. Mary, (left) is Eastern European coordinator of COCI, and is who I've spent the last week with.
While walking to Gloria's apartment, Mary took me
This is Mary's aunt. Isn't she lovely? She lives on the 5th floor of her apartment building, and can no longer leave. There is no elevator, and while she can go down all the flights of stairs, she can't get back up them. The laws have recently changed here, and they are now required to install an elevator in any building more than three floors. Hopefully this will allow Mary's aunt considerably more freedom.
This is her aunt's sister. She couldn't get over the fact I didn't understand Serbian, and kept asking me things, then laughing when I didn't answer. LOL
Some of you donated toothbrushes for the screening clinic that we had planned during this trip. The clinic was to take place at this school in Kostajnica. . Just days before leaving to come to Serbia, all the arrangements made for the clinic fell apart. The children were disappointed! This is a very remote area with NO access to services. This clinic would have brought to them something they've never before had.
This is the NADA school in Kostajnica. The original school was bombed out during the Bosnian war. COCI offered to rebuild the school, but only if they would give space to a special needs classroom. NADA (which means Hope) was started by parents of children with special needs to give them a place to learn. It is called Some of the children do not attend school, others attend but are never accepted by their peers. NADA...Hope School... is where the children love to come and are accepted.
The grounds in font of the school are all torn up because the city has just installed new drainage systems. In the foreground you see pavers, these will be placed to make a beautiful playground for the children.
When I was here in December, COCI donated this car to the school. This allows staff to drive children who's families would not otherwise be able to get them to and from the school.
The workshops meet in the evening from 5:00-7:00. This allows those who attend school to come to the NADA school afterward. Today they were working hard making luminaries. All of the children in this program have mild-moderate cognitive delays.
This little girl is actually a sibling to one of the NADA students. Just an adorable little thing!
This young man WANTED my camera in the worst way! He did get a little carried away while posing with his scissors and just about cut his hair. LOL
All of the children wanted to make SURE I took a picture of their tree! This was a fine motor activity and is made of rolled up papers.
Although the clinic did not take place, COCI has a staff member, Dr. Zoran Popovic, who is a dentist and today (Friday) he will start seeing some of the children COCI serves who live in and around Belgrade. He is donating his time and talents to start getting the dental needs of the children with special needs met. Most of these children are shut-ins, and without help from COCI would never make it to a doctor, dentist, or school. So, the toothbrushes you donated were going to instead be used for this program. They're a great training tools since they have a built-in timer in them. Instead they're sitting in a customs office at the airport, and who knows what will happen to them from there?
More great stuff happening today!