Bosnia Herzegovina and the Balkans: Compassion in Action

Devastating floods in Bosnia Herzegovina and throughout the Balkans are the worst thing the country has faced since the horrific war two decades ago, according to Bosnian president, Bakir Izetbegovic. More than two dozen people have been killed in Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia, entire towns and cities have been inundated, and damage losses will run well into the billions of dollars.  And as if the deadly flooding isn't enough, rescues and civilians must now grapple with the risk of landmines being displaced and resurfacing.

Members of ACT alliance, Church World Service (CWS), International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), Philanthropy, and Hungarian Interchurch Aid (HIA) are now preparing a coordinated response through their Balkan offices and through their network of local partners to provide support to soup kitchens and the distribution of food packages, hygiene kits and cleaning supplies.  In anticipation of a CWS\ACT appeal, WoC is now preparing an emergency grant to help with the initial stages of relief and recovery on behalf of North American Disciples.

Many Disciples know Dzevad Avdagic, a former CWS staffer who oversaw many of CWS' relief and recovery projects after the war. In a recent email, Dzevad shared some thoughts about the floods:

"The flood made really catastrophe. Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia are in very, very bad situation. Many people lost lives and nobody knows at moment how many are dead. Big problem in Bosnia beside flood is land slam (landslide) and many homes are totally destroyed. I don't know what else to say, but I'm sure you understand it knowing that in USA tornadoes make also big catastrophe.  Old people here say, nobody don't remember that this kind of flood ever happen before.

Something that make me happy and optimist, is that people from whole region help each other. Bosnian, Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian, Slovenian and many others really do amazing job - send experts, helicopters, volunteers also collecting food, clothes, medicine and everything what people need.  At the moment most important is tools for cleaning and hygiene materials.  When floods stop I'm sure we will need billions of $ to rebuild everything, agriculture, homes, factories and many other things that is destroyed. We hope international organizations to help.  I am glad that CWS and IOCC respond. USA already respond and many European governments too.

This story I must share with you.  It is connected with Halal money. (Many of you have heard the story of Week of Compassion money being called 'blessed money' or Halal by Dzevad.)   As I told you before Maglaj, Zavidovici and other cities are totally under water and pass through terrible days.  But, but, but, listen this, my brother, our greenhouses in Zavidovici (built by WoC funds) was untouched, and you remember how close and how big river was there.  When I receive this information tears come to my eyes.  Can you believe it, and you know how proud we were with this project and this was my last project during my work with CWS.  I'm sure this greenhouses will take very important role in producing vegetables and food for vulnerable people when this catastrophe ends."

Week of Compassion is grateful for the support we receive from so many Disciples members, friends and congregations that enable us to respond to needs in Bosnia, the Balkans and beyond. Gratefully, 

Johnny Wray,

Interim Executive Director

This Week's Responses:

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Afghanistan, Mudslide and Flood Relief
Democratic Republic of Congo and Republic of Congo, Refugee and IDP relief
Ohio, Tornado Relief
Colorado, Tornado Relief and Recovery

Development and Long-Term Recovery and Rehabilitation  
Haiti, Long-Term Recovery