By Nicole Robicheau, IFRC
Nedim Jasic, 21, has been volunteering for the New Sarajevo branch youth chapter of the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the past eight years. He began with the society’s first aid activities. “Red Cross is part of my life now, even when I’m not volunteering I’m here drinking coffee and spending time,” he says.
When the floods hit, Jasic and 150 other volunteers in their branch took 24-hour shifts sorting through and distributing items to people in need. The small office space they use in the city was filled from the ground to the ceiling with donated goods. Diligently, they put together care packages, writing the letter H on each item, for humanitarian, to make sure the donations wouldn’t be sold for profit.
They’ve visited every one of the affected towns to provide support to people in need. Flooding and landslides throughout the affected areas have displaced more than 40,000 people.
Nearly 200 kilometres to the north of Sarajevo lies Orasje, one of the worst hit areas. Two weeks after the flood, many parts of the town and surrounding villages still lie under water.
Twenty-four year old Red Cross volunteer Petar Mikic has only been sleeping a few hours each night since the floods hit. The son of the head of the local Red Cross branch, he and a few of his friends started a youth chapter when he was twelve years old.
He and the other youth volunteers from Orasje are involved in running three shelters in the area, as well as distributing food and hygiene items to the affected people.
"I don't know how, but all these people came to help out. It’s beautiful," said Mikic.
As the water begins to recede, people have started cleaning out their flooded homes. Others whose houses are still flooded are traveling in boats to see the effects, or walking around in rubber boots if the water isn’t too deep.
Mikic says that despite the crisis, people are not disheatened. "We don't give up, it's our people, it's our land and we want to protect it the best way we can.”
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has launched an emergency appeal to allow the Red Cross, through its dedicated volunteers, continue to help people affected by the floods.