It’s a sad reality of the world that after any major catastrophe occurs anywhere, there will always be some poor excuse of a human being (or hundreds) looking to make a profit. Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it’s not. Here in the Balkans I’d say it is both.
With that in mind, I’ve been taking my time feeling out the situation on the ground and following developments in local news so that I can use whatever space I have on the internet to direct people to LEGIT (emphasis on legit) organizations to send donations to that are helping with recovery efforts after the worst flooding Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia have experienced in the entire 120 years that they’ve been recording weather.
I’d say the general consensus here is that the physical devastation that has been caused in many cities, towns, and villages is right on par with that which they saw during the war in the 1990s. As the death toll continues to rise (46 as of today), landslides continue to occur (3,000 as of today), and waters recede, millions of people are faced with some very hard times ahead and the unfortunate fact of the matter is that the governments of these countries are not all doing their best to help, and probably won’t.
Having been fortunate enough to travel extensively around these beautiful lands, having felt the unwavering warmth and hospitality from just about every single person I’ve come in contact with in the region, and knowing what I do about the sad state of affairs of their political and economic situations (especially Bosnia), I am appealing to anyone and everyone who is reading this to help in any way that you can, if you can, and here is how.
For those of you abroad, the easiest way to help is to donate money. While there are lots of organizations collecting donations and doing good things, below are the ones I feel 100% comfortable suggesting until I learn more about the others – and which I will be more than happy to add to this list when that happens, so shoot me an email or leave a comment if you’re in the know.
Since I have been unable to find one place you can send money to that will benefit all countries equally, I have to break it down by country.
If you want to put your faith in the Serbian government, they have set up a Paypal account for donations.
My opinion though is that all aid being reported from other countries is being sent to them anyway, so could be good to share the wealth with another established organization who I know are doing things and that is Red Cross of Serbia.
How do I know? Because they were running operations and handing out donations on the spot from the same hotel my YoGypsy guests stayed at on their last two nights in Belgrade. Information for donating is below.
One more thing I have to mention for those in and around Belgrade (because that is where I am sitting) is that all the revenue from the first day of Mad in Belgrade, the new music festival that is taking place here this coming weekend, will be donated to the flood victims of Serbia.
Bosnia is a special case because I have a good friend there, The Bosnia Guy, already in the field helping and I am going to be back in the country next week at which time I will put cash in his hand, “no overhead, no bullshit”, from myself and our generous friends from the first YoGypsy trip who toured with us through the region last week. You can read all of the updates on his blog and about Terra Dinarica, the organization he will be running things through, but in brief, one of his main focuses now is going to be on the children that have been impacted and getting them into a “safe zone” which immediately struck the strongest cord in my heart. Having established many kindergartens in the affected areas during the 1990s with Save the Children, he is the dude for the job and I trust him wholeheartedly with any thing he says he is going to do – and what he is already doing. Here are the bank details for international transfers:
Pay through: SWIFT : GIBAATWG
ERSTE GROUP BANK AG, WIEN
SWIFT CODE: ABSBBA22
Sparkasse Bank DD BiH
Zmaja od Bosne 7
IBAN: BA39 1990 4900 5934 4065
UDRUŽENJE ”ZEMLJA DINARIKA”
VLADIMIRA NAZORA 2
71 000 SARAJEVO, BIH
Red Cross of Bosnia & Herzegovina is of course also an option and their account information is below or donate online.
Latest news is that several villages near the Serbian border in eastern Croatia have also been severely affected and sadly I don’t know much about rescue relief efforts there yet, but Red Cross of Croatia has laid out how to donate online in English below.
Get Out There
If you are in the Balkans now and want to help, you can do a couple of things. You can donate your time as a volunteer to the Red Cross or any other charitable organization you hear of doing work in affected areas, and/or you can physically bring needed items to donation centers. Clothes, shoes, diapers, food, blankets, shovels, rubber boots…pretty much anything you can think of that you would need if your home was destroyed and all supplies in your town suddenly disappeared.
Spread the Word
If you are unable to do either of the above mentioned, you can still help by spreading the word to others who can. Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia need help, they need it now, and they will need it down the line. When the news in your country stops reporting on what’s happening over here, people will still be picking up the pieces of what’s left of their lives. Still mourning the loss of loved ones. Still figuring out how to rebuild/repair their homes. Still assessing the extent of the damage to their farms and lost livestock. And they will be for a long time, so please keep them in your hearts and minds.
I hope I made it clear above that I know there are tons of other organizations also doing great work who you could be sending your money to and that I am open to promoting them here as well, but as I read a wise man once quote, ‘no one can do everything but everyone can do something’.