Founder Acharya His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

ISKCON Continues to Bring Aid to Flooded Balkans
By Madhava Smullen   |  May 22, 2014
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ISKCON devotees are assisting people affected by the catastrophic floods that have ravaged the Balkan countries of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Crotia.

NPR, which called the floods the worst in a century, reported that three months of rain fell in just a few days. This caused the river Sava, which flows through all three countries, to burst beyond its banks and sweep through towns and villages.

According to the Associated Press, half a million people have fled their homes, and at least 44 have died along with thousands of farm animals.

Balkans

Homes destroyed by landslides in Svrake Village in Vogosca, near Sarajevo

ISKCON devotees are doing what they can to help. In Serbia, the Goranga Camp is cooking and serving 200 to 300 sanctified vegetarian meals per day. They recently distributed 400 meals in Obreonovac, the country’s worst flooded city, after being ferried across the water by police.

Meanwhile in Bosnia-Herzegovina, devotees, who mostly live near the country’s only temple in the unaffected capital city Sarajevo, report that they are safe and are just beginning to ramp up relief efforts.

It’s going to be a challenge. About 1.5 million people in Bosnia have been affected directly or indirectly by the disaster. Over 10,000 families have lost their homes permanently in landslides or in the floods, and are taking shelter in schools, gyms, motels and private homes.

Balkans

Rescuing people from the flood-damaged area

Lately, the rain has stopped and the waters have begun to recede. But recovery is only just beginning. The infrastructure of the country, already weak since its mid 1990s civil war, has taken a major hit, and rebuilding will cost billions of Euros.

Meanwhile 10,000 jobs were lost after many small and medium-sized businesses in the Sava River valley were destroyed. On top of that, the floating corpses of thousands of animals bring a high risk of communicable diseases and infected drinking water.

Trying to do what they can against this colossal disaster is the small ISKCON community of Sarajevo. With no large kitchen and no established Food For Life program, a group of congregational devotees who have their own families and jobs to take care of have volunteered their free time to cook prasadam. They’ve even donated money from their own pockets, and used their own vehicles to transport the sanctified vegetarian food.

Balkans

Rescuing peole through the roof of their houses

Dhira Prasanta Das and Amala Prema Dasi, a working married couple with two teenage boys, are among those volunteering their time and money.

“As the roads to the most affected towns were completely cut off, we first got in touch with the closest municipality affected by floods and landslides, Vogosca, which is about six miles away from us,” says Dhira Prasanta. “They welcomed our offer to provide one hot meal a day for seventy-three people they are sheltering at the local Red Cross facility and two motels.”

On Monday May 19th and Tuesday May 20th, devotees served a lentil or kidney and vegetable stew, bread, salad and potable water to the seventy-three refugees, while on Wednesday they added cakes to the meal.

Balkans

Devotees transport food through flooded streets in Serbia

“As the country is poor and the municipality of Vogosca doesn’t have many resources, they are very grateful,” Amala Prema says. “They tell us that they can see we are doing this with love from our hearts.”

Meanwhile the refugees – especially families with children — are also extremely grateful for the hot meals, as relief packages so far from other sources only provided them with canned and dry foods.

Devotees will continue feeding people in Vogosca until the end of this week. By the weekend, they expect to be able to access more affected towns in the north of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Currently, their limited resources only allow them to serve around 150 meals per day. But as more help, both physical and financial, comes in from around the world, they’ll be able to assist on a larger scale.

Balkans

Devotees serve prasadam to refugees in Vogosca, Bosnia

Already offers of funds and help from UK-based humanitarian organization Khalsa Aid have come in. Priyavrata Das of Food For Life Global is trying to raise funds for the cause through his website ffl.org. Devotees from ISKCON Hungary have promised their assistance. Laksminath Das, who has experience in cooking large quantities during the Haitian and Malaysian Tsunamis, has offered his help. And devotees around the world have donated around $1,000 so far.

But much more is needed to truly be able to help the victims of the Balkan floods.

“Every single penny will be used for the purposes for which the money was given – only to feed the people who were effected by the catastrophe,” promises Dhira Prasanta.

In the meantime, the small Bosnian ISKCON community will continue to put their hearts and souls into helping their fellow countrymen.

“Our effort is small, but it is very sincere and is driven purely by enthusiasm and a desire to satisfy our spiritual masters and Srila Prabhupada,” says Amala Prema.

Balkans

The Food For Life team in Bosnia-Herzegovina

* * *  

To help the Bosnian devotees, please send your donation to:

Paypal: dhiraprasanta@gmail.com

Bank transfer:

BANK NAME: RAIFFEISEN BANK DD BOSNA I HERCEGOVINA 


SWIFT: RZBABA2S

BANK ADDRESS: ZMAJA OD BOSNE BB, SARAJEVO BIH

IBAN CODE BA391612000006309761

FULL NAME OF ACCOUNT HOLDER: DARKO BARTULA

FULL ADDRESS: VITKOVAC 109, SARAJEVO, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA


PURPOSE: FFL FLOOD RELEIF IN BOSNIA

For more information about the Bosnian situation and ISKCON’s charity work in the area contact: Dhira Prasanta at dhiraprasanta@gmail.com or and Amala Prema Devi Dasi at amalaprema@gmail.com

* * *

To help the Serbian devotees, please send your donation to:

PayPal:  donacije.sns@gmail.com

Or, bank transfer:

BANK NAME: RAIFFEISEN BANKA AD BEOGRAD, RS 

SWIF: RZBSRSBG 

IBAN CODE: RS35265050000006973553

FULL NAME OF ACCOUNT HOLDER: MIRA (MILAN) BLANUSA 

FULL ADDRESS: STEVANA MARKOVIĆA 2 BEOGRAD-ZEMUN REPUBLIKA SRBIJA

PURPOSE: FFL FLOOD IN SERBIA

For more information about the situation in Serbia and ISKCON’s charity work in the area contact: Madhva Munidas madhvamuni@gmail.com  +38163396237

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