About Aid 2 Bosnia
|Aid2Bosnia is the name we chose for this website which was launched in April 2007. The aims of the website then were to provide links and information about Charities and individual aid workers who have been and are doing all they can to bring relief to the forgotten refugees in Bosnia Herzegovina. So much has happened in the 5 years since launch - will try to update to present.
We chose the MAGNOLIA as the symbol for Aid2Bosnia as this flower represents DIGNITY and NOBILITY, two qualities that the refugees have so often shown, even in the most adverse circumstances.
Bosnia is 'yesterday's news', when so many other world tragedies make the headlines, but some of the people there are suffering even more poverty and deprivation now, 2012, than at the end of the 3-year War in the former Yugoslavia - a war which has been over since 1995. Read on - stories and pictures are here.
Since the launch of the website, from the Summer of 2009, our work has acquired charitable status with the Inland Revenue and a charity no. We decided we could choose no better name for the registered charity than the one we chose for this website. The charity is called AID2BOSNIA Charity No XT16040. All gifts for the work of the charity that are Gift Aided will now be eligible for tax to be reclaimed on them which makes all our fundraising efforts even more worthwhile.
If you are reading this and have more information about others who are helping the refugees in Bosnia, whose names are not featured here, please tell us on e-mail at: email@example.com. Our aim is that as well as promoting our charity, AID2BOSNIA, this website is also an 'information site', an inter-active site, and we still see ourselves as 'links in a chain' providing and sharing information, ALL AND ONLY FOR THE BENEFIT OF THOSE WHO ARE STILL REFUGEES IN BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA.
The aim of this work is always to give people back HOPE. Once we had seen the situation - 12 years ago now - and how hard it is for people in that country in the aftermath of war, we could not turn our backs, we had to get involved and try to help ... and now, even though Joe has been so terribly ill during the last 4 years and is of an age when we could give up, we will not. We have charitable status and with the help of people like you, we shall continue to fundraise and try to help.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HELP ANY OF THE PEOPLE OR CHARITIES DESCRIBED ON THIS WEBSITE, the instructions on 'how to' are included in their stories or through contacting us on firstname.lastname@example.org. Please, if you do donate to organisations other than ours, could you make reference that you read the information on this Aid2Bosnia website and, if possible, tell us in an e-mail at the same time. This way we can have some idea of the effectiveness of the website. Thank you.
We, Deacon Joe and Felicity Rogan, were invited to visit Medjugorje, the pilgrimage site in the south of Bosnia Herzegovina, some 15 miles from Mostar, and the refugees at Capljina just 10 miles away, in April 2000. The Nun who took us had been visiting refugees there both during and since the War in the early 90's. She had come home to England broken-hearted at Christmas 1999 because she found that the derelict railway carriages, which had been home to refugees for up to 7 years, were being demolished with the people still living there. The Government wanted to restart the railway.
That is how we got involved founding the charity Housing Aid Bosnia with her which has continued to build houses for refugees to this day.
As you browse through this site and see all the good work being done by so many people and organisations and begin to understand the needs, maybe your hearts will be touched and you too will want to help. You will see how you can do this as you read about the work going on, but if you have any queries, please don't hesitate to write to us on email@example.com and we will do our best to help you. If you know of any other individuals or organisations helping Bosnia, please let us know so that we can consider putting that information on this website as well, to promote what they do. We are totally non-political. Those of us involved are ordinary people helping similar ordinary people at a 'grass-roots' level, trying to make a difference.
The only aim and intention for all those individuals and Charities involved with Bosnia now should and has to be 'helping the refugees' - helping the people of all ethnic groups in Bosnia Herzegovina recover from the dreadful internal War that wracked their country. Let us never under-estimate the ongoing misery and after-effects of War, even when it has been over for years.
... let's pray ... see our Post-a-Prayer site.
WHY WE SET UP THIS AID2BOSNIA WEBSITE ... April 2007
During the years that we have been going to Bosnia, we have had so many amazing experiences and met so many amazing people and our focus has never wavered, that is to help the refugees. Once seen, we could not turn our backs on them and despite our hearts being pulled in so many directions with world tragedies, and even our own involvement in other areas of the world, because of friends we have working in India, Africa and South America in particular, Bosnia is where we believe we are still called to help personally.
Going to Medjugorje is spiritually uplifting and each time something different has happened that inspires us and helps us on our journey to God. But it is with the refugees - and for years we would have said that is in the camp and all the little tin huts - that we believe Jesus is, that is where we have often felt closest to God.
We had two exceptional trips in 2006. Each time we have gone Joe would say, 'That was the best trip yet!' and when he said it again in October 2006, I said, 'You always say that - but yes, actually, it probably did seem like the best ever at the time!' Why, you might be wondering? Well, it was a combination of all the new contacts and friends we make each time and what happens with the refugees. We have had so many opportunities over the years to see further afield than just Camp Tasovcici - although I guess that will always be our favourite place - and there are just so many good people trying to help Bosnia.
We went again in April 2007 and had another spectacular trip! We had trouble with excess baggage as usual - which included large quantities of face painting materials, 8 beautiful moses baskets packed with wonderful baby things and many other useful items including medical supplies and nappies. This time our friends at BA couldn't help us, because of the luggage restrictions, so, writing to the Chairman of BA, we were delighted that he said 'yes' and we got everything through once more. Amazing!
We could not go in October 2007 because Joe had some serious health issues but we brought two refugees to England - see elsewhere in News of that trip. We hoped, very much, to be able to go back in May 2008.
We did go in May 2008 and it was another amazing and worthwhile trip - 'feeding the hungry' as we always do wherever we go once there (thanks to our generous parishes and other Churches back home) and taking money raised for houses and other useful gifts AND spending time with people, listening to them and sharing special times.
One of our sons has said he could never understand why we were always so happy and excited to be going back to Bosnia. He thinks the situation is so awful, we should be sad and that we should take sad photos of deprived and unhappy people and children to better plead their cause. What actually happened each time is that we have visited so consistently for years and have loved the people so much, that they have always smiled in our photos however dire their circumstances. We know that they have all suffered, and that they still are, but we know that by our going there we have lifted their spirits and we always tried to think of lovely things to do with them and their children. We have laughed so much when there and so have they! Isn't that wonderful! So many hugs and kisses - they knew and know we truly care. We have so many wonderful memories. Annie, the Nurse and Midwife, we took for the first time in April 2006, has got to know everybody so well in the years since by actually living in the camp on her trips, now in one of our houses, and she has always said how much everyone has loved us all going. That has always encouraged us! When so many aid workers do go into that camp, it makes us happy to know that they really know who we all are as individuals. We have recently made a new contact who was a refugee herself, not now, and she is helping those still in the camp. She has told us that they all remember us still and understand why we haven't been since May 2008 - because of Joe's ill health.
Each time we went we tried to take a friend or friends with us from England and these friends always seemed to catch the same enthusiasm for helping and have said to us that going to the camp, and elsewhere visiting refugees, has changed their lives. Similarly, when we met people in Medjugorje - how easy it is to make friends there! - we would invite people to 'come and see' the camp and the houses, and they too found it life-changing and very often then found their own ways of staying involved ... helping. We only ever see ourselves as 'links in a chain' and that is still working for us even though we haven't been back for 4 years - we have our 'connections'!
Initiating Art Workshops in the Camp in April 2006 was really a highlight time for us. Firms had been so generous with art materials - BA let us take 150 kg of luggage through and we sailed through the three borders from Dubrovnik! God really heard our prayers! We had so much to give everyone in the camp, ie clothes and toys and other things and of course we always did the foodbags, and the people were always SO appreciative, each person individually coming up and thanking us. We are still managing the foodbags and have our people there to distribute - always thanking our generous Church communities back home. But the art workshops in 2006 - for the children - were hugely successful and after the many times we had been, the people were so familiar and comfortable with us in the camp, we could just blend in with the refugees. In fact, Annie was genuinely mistaken for a refugee once ... until she spoke in English and gave the visitor such a shock! (Must add that Annie deserves so much praise because she is really mastering the difficult Serbo-Croat language!) There are so many children who can act as interpreters and we always encouraged all of them to learn to speak English.
In October 2006, we were all set to do the art workshops again - BA were just as fantastic with our excess baggage. We risked and flew to Split and a friend met us and drove us the low road to Medjugorje, with only one border crossing. There was no fear at all, no huge mountain drops. The only after-effect of our miraculous accident in the mountains (April 2005), when we felt we were held in the arms of angels, no fear at the time, is that now I, Felicity, am very afraid of the drops, even the Dubrovnik route was too much for me. But that was all sorted for the last few trips we made - and we always stayed a night in Makarska, both ends of our trip, to meet up with Tonci (our rescuing angel in the accident) and his wife Jelena and babies Anda and Nicola. This little family have become our firm friends. So in October 2006, sadly, we ran out of time for the art workshops so gave the materials away - school-type and more sophisticated things for the older children and colouring things and picture books for the younger children. One of the reasons we ran out of time was that we had organised a named parcel of clothes and toys for each child under 10 - and there were 50 - AND we had the reading glasses to give out to all (thanks to the generosity of Sight Station in London). The children were as good as gold sitting round in the hall, with Mums crowding in the doorway, while Joe told them the story of 'Jonah the Moaner' - Nensi translating - and then we gave out all the presents. It was lovely but it all took time! The reading glasses were a HUGE success! We had hilarious times as each person who felt they needed glasses tried the six different strengths. Our dear friend Mary, visiting with us, said that the two weeks had changed her life forever and she was going home a different person! She was hemmed in giving out the glasses - with Boris (aged 17) and Andrea and Nikolina (the girls both 14) translating - in the packed hall and I was 'catching' people for their photographs as they came back through the crowd! The atmosphere was absolutely brilliant, so much laughter, and so many happy people with their glasses. Somebody cottoned on to the word 'super' and that word was just magical as each person said it after the oohs and aahs when they suddenly could see to read again! We were able to give the remaining glasses to Ivanka (in charge of the Camp) for the other camp at Domanovici and still have another box here to take with us the following April.
We do get given far more than we can take, so art materials have gone on the convoys to Banja Luka, North Bosnia, and everything else that we can't get to Bosnia, we send to Latvia and Estonia on the twice-yearly containers going from Bourne. We grieve for people there and are so glad to be able to help. Did you know that 80% of all pregnancies are aborted in the poor villages in those countries where families try to exist on a mere $20 a month. Over the border into Russia, we are told, babies are left at the roadside to die ... and the world doesn't know if we don't tell them. There is so much need in this world of ours - we must always pray for more and more people to try to help, whether it is Bosnia, Latvia and Estonia, or the other countries mentioned ... and we can all be the 'links in a chain' needed to make good connections for their benefit. We have so much comfort here at home that we do take for granted - we need more and more people to become aware and take up these causes to heal this world of ours from all the deprivation and grief.
THE WEBSITE WAS A GIFT WE DID NOT ANTICIPATE BUT IT HAS PROVED TO BE THE MOST WONDERFUL WAY OF SHARING INFORMATION AND GETTING PEOPLE INVOLVED.
As you will see, PRAYERS can be added to the website.