By Ljiljana Samardzic
Sombor, Aug. 30, , 2009 (Serbia Today) - On the outskirts of Sombor, placed aside the main road, far away from the clear sight, Home for abandoned and orphaned children “Miroslav Mika Antic” is located. Many people, even from Sombor, are not aware of its existence. It’s history is even more sad. Although this type of institution for social protection in Serbia has a long tradition, homes for abandoned and orphaned children are not really popular and it is kind of taboo subject for many. The very first location of “Mika Antic” was in a center of the town and, gradually, it had been moved to peripheral part of Sombor. No matter how advanced and open-minded the society is, being child from home for abandoned children is still considered a shameful thing.
Behind the fence of “Mika Antic”, which is, as the matter of speaking, open to anyone interested, children of different ages are fighting through life, trying to make it more beautiful despite a cruel reality. Manager of “Mika Antic”, Mrs. Vesna Vorkapic and the rest of the staff are doing their best to help these children out to seize the world, to accept themselves in best possible way, to preoccupy their minds with creativity.
But, personnel are not the only one willing to help. Many foreigners visited “Mika Antic” over the years. Every August, a group of Italian scouts from association AGESCI (Associazione Guide E Scouts Cattolici Italiani) is traveling just to see their old friends and to spend some time with them playing, learning and having fun. Beside them, at the same time, there were guests from Smederevo, members from nongovernmental organization “Without borders”.
“Our organization Without borders has begun with its work in 1999 in Smederevo. Later on, UNHCR started to sponsor us. We are working on many theater shows and among the participators are refugee’s children. This is the 7th year that we are visiting and cooperating with “Mika Antic” on different drama and dancing sections”, says Mr. Gabor Melegi, the establisher of NVO “Without borders”.
“This brings good to all - to the children from Foster’s home and children from refugee camp. They have developed friendships with Italians since we came together for many years now. Contacts made here are kept for very long time and I think that even one, solely case of success in these children’s lives is very important”, finished Mr. Melegi.
On this same occasion, the reporter of „Serbia Today“ also spoke with Mr. Marco Mateazzi, one of the AGESCI members. Regarding motivation for coming to “Mika Antic”, he said that “by deciding to become scouts they accepted these kinds of activities - volunteering, learning about other cultures and helping other people. As time goes by, interest is arousing and we grow as philanthropists.”
According to Mr. Mateazzi, “one of the main goals of this association is to gather children from all over the world, to educate them and teach to be self aware, so they could fit in any society, no matter where they are.”
“Similar projects and activities exist in other countries as well, but only in “Mika Antic” it has its continuity. Besides activities in home for abandoned children, there is a kind of subproject which consists of Italian language course for Sombor citizens kept in town’s Gymnasium”, Mr. Mateazzi told “Serbia Today”.
The connection between Italians and “Mika Antic” begun eight years ago, when Mr. Carlo Seraglio met Mrs. Vesna Vorkapic. He came up to the idea that senior scouts could make visits right here, in future. Since then, every August they come to “Mika Antic” foster home.
Mrs. Vorkapic added that “Italians are coming every Christmas and Easter. On that occasion we talk about problems that need to be solved, so we can make plans in advance for August. By their return, Italian group leaders discuss with youngsters, who should make August visit, in order to form activity programs. But, that is not everything. AGESCI donates us every year and due to their help we brought life in our home to higher level and succeeded to supply our another house in village with two kitchens. This year we got a van for easier transport.”
Help on local basis comes rare. Tonight, two musicians from Apatin decided to give their best to these children - their own music. Accustomed on imaginary world and creativity, children wanted to give their own contribution to this event. Girls aged 12-13 made a dance show. They were really good prepared and they were cheerful like they had no worries in this world. Some of them, who are talented in another way, sang. Main attractions were professional musicians Ilija Ilic and Rajko Vlahovic.
“I made contact with “Mika Antic” spontaneously. That is to say, my younger brother came here with his high school friends to give away some clothes to these children and after that experience he suggested that I should play to them. So, I came here to meet these people and we are occasionally having fun together”, told Mr. Ilic for “Serbia Today”.
Mr Ilic informed few media houses, including local ones. The reporter of “Serbia Today” was the only one who showed up. Was it the lack of time, prejudices or something else?