Life goes on – so does the washing machine

Published: 12 June 2014 14:51 CET

By Sladjana Dimic, The Red Cross of Serbia

“We were evacuated from Obrenovac by helicopter 27 days ago,” says 32-year-old Dragana Stankovic.  "My children still talk about that ride and we are lucky that they are too young to remember bad things."

The helicopter was just big enough to take her, her two children, Dimitrije and Milica, and her mother Slavka Komanovic to safety. "My husband Marko arrived few days later as he stayed behind to help with evacuations,” Stankovic says. “We are staying here now, and where will we go afterwards – I don't know..."

Their host in Belgrade is cousin Jelena Kuzmnanovic. Jelena is a teacher and a volunteer with the Red Cross of Serbia. She too is a mother.

"At first, I was ashamed to ask for assistance as these are my relatives. However, as the time went by, children were in need for many things and I don't have enough – even for the two of us,” says Kuzmnanovic. “The main reason I decided to ask for help from the Red Cross was Dimitrije. He didn't want to wear pink shoes that belonged to my daughter. And I don't have even one toy for boys in my house."

Crowded into a one bedroom apartment and a back-yard of several square meters, they will be celebrating Milica's second birthday today. Being overcrowded, they are sleeping in shifts even in the larder.

“We are going to Obrenovac at weekends as my husband works in Pancevo all day long. All our furniture has perished and there is still a lot of sludge in our house,” Stankovic says.

“The water came higher than the cane roof, causing it to rot. We are waiting for a damage assessment to be conducted and remain hopeful that someone will help us. I don't have a job at the moment,” she says.

As may be expected, the Red Cross distribution centre has been very busy, but Kuzmnanovic said the family was patient. “We registered and then received a call when things became available. This means  a lot to me – that people haven't forgotten about me and my relatives.”

Somehow, the family manages. “The washing machine is constantly on now and I hope it doesn't break down,” Kuzmnanovic says. “it will actually be a bit strange once the family leaves again.”