Caritas of Srijem
20, Štrosmajerova Street
Phone/fax +381 21 6431 368
Reverend Jozo Duspara, a priest in Zemun
Phone/fax +381 11 2616 281
Mobile phone +381 63 564 194
Phone/fax +381 21 6332 154
ABOUT CARITAS OF THE DIOCESE OF SRIJEM
Caritas, organized way of charitable activities, is a novelty in our Church. One of its basic dimensions is this way of serving of the Church to the people in need. Having its work based on faith in Jesus Christ, Caritas is significantly different from all other organizations which help the people in need with humane reasons.
Led by this mission, priests in Srijem founded Caritas in 1992. This was due to, at the time emphasised, the specific position of the Diocese of Đakovo and Srijem, which in part was in Srijem, detached from the rest of the Diocese because of the war.
In 1999, when Auxiliary Bishop monsignor Đuro Gašparović became Vicar General for Srijem based in Petrovaradin, and on priests’ proposal, Caritas opened its office at the same location. It has been very successful in conducting its administration and communication with other centres and donors.
Caritas of Srijem operates on the territory of Srijem as well as a part of Caritas of Serbia and Montenegro and its director is Reverend Jozo Duspara, a priest in Zemun. It is quite logical that our Caritas, as an institution of the Diocese of Srijem, wants to be connected with its not long ago parent diocese, with Caritas organizations in its metropolises, and others throughout Croatia.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF WORK
From 1992 to 2000.
Caritas started its work at the most difficult time for our congregation, the time when our people were exiled from their homes, and a large number of refugees came. In the time of high inflation, Caritas helped everyone who asked for help, making no difference between refugees and local people. Caritas has been active ever since.
Some of the first activities in Caritas were urgent programmes through which the people in need were helped. Then, after the NATO bombing of SRJ donors of European Caritas made a project known as SAO. It lasted from 1999 to 2002.
During this period, Caritas of Srijem distributed a lot of family packages, wood-burning stoves and firewood to many families. Also, it helped work of many institutions, such as:
- Centres for Social Work in Šid, Beočin, Sremska Mitrovica, Ruma, Irig, Pećinci, Sremski Karlovci, Inđiji, Stara Pazova and Zemun;
- Hospitals in Zemun, Bežanijska kosa, Stari Slankamen, Sremska Kamenica, Sremska Mitrovica, Principovac;
- Nursing homes in Zemun and Ruma;
- Children’s institutions in Zemun and Sremska Kamenica
and many more governmental and nongovernmental organizations, such as associations of pensioners, the disabled, the Red Cross, etc.
Huge amount of Humanitarian Aid was distributed through our parish offices and parish Caritas with the help of many volunteers.
When it comes to local population, the aid was handed out to institutions and individuals irrespective of their religion or ethnic affiliation.
From 2001 to date
During 2001 our Caritas and Caritas of Bolzzano-Bresanone Diocese established a partnership which is active through different activities. Even Memorandum of good intentions has been signed with this Caritas.
This partnership implied helping of this Italian diocese, which refers to work with elderly and young people, as well as projects aimed at farmers and craftsmen.
Work with the elderly was carried out by established teams of home care in Zemun, Stara Pazova, Sremska Mitrovica and Šid. Their activities included visits and help the elderly, who were over 65 years old, had no relatives living nearby and were materially poor.
Work with the young was aimed at helping them in their various activities, and the primary goal was to strengthen the young, extend the hand of friendship, and regain the hope. For that reason, the Youth Centre was opened in Petrovaradin, and it helped the young all over Srijem by acquiring computers, musical instruments, etc.
During 2004 and 2005, Caritas of Srijem with the help of Diocese of Bolzzano helped many young people by paying for different parts of their schooling.
Third type of action, in collaboration with Diocese of Bolzzano, included the programme to provide aid to farmers and craftsmen. In 2001 the production of different crops, called “Semi di speranza” (Seeds of Hope) was organised. Many families from 12 parishes, with 14 types of crops participated in this project.
The idea of Caritas was revealed through these projects, and the name of Caritas of Srijem became highly appreciated. There are 308 members in families that participated in the projects. During the working season, an additional number of 275 people was included, and all of them were from four-member families. That means that around 1500 people benefited from this project only.
During five-year period Caritas gave small loans to farmers and craftsmen. It is important to say that these microloans were accepted well, especially in the spring when supplies of resources were low, and investments were high. Also, everyone who took the loan obliged themselves to help one poverty-stricken family or person by giving them some of their products. So, in the autumn, when the loan was repaid, one family or person was given help. Even today, when the microloans are not being given anymore, many people have stayed in good relationship, and permanent protégés of landowners.
As the urgent projects have been finished in recent period, Caritas has continued its work with the elderly and the young. Nowadays, there are organized labours of Home Care and DC in Srijemska Mitrovica, Šid, Stara Pazova, Ruma. In Zemun, there used to be KN as well, but due to lack of financial funds the work is done by volunteers now. The strength of voluntary work is of the utmost importance here, as it is probably the future of Caritas in this area.
During 2008, Home Care in Ruma, Šid and Stara Pazova were funded by The National Programme of Caritas of Serbia and Montenegro. Parish Caritas in Sremska Mitrovica was supported by Caritas of Germany, as well as Municipal Community. In 2008 and 2009, the Government of Vojvodina helped the work of Caritas by supporting home care programme and by employing eight people for a six-month period.
It is important to say that Caritas of Srijemska Mitrovica was a holder of a pilot project called “infirmary on wheels”, which employed eight people for a six-month period.
The aims of the work with the elderly are still the same as at the beginning, and there is a hope that the work of Caritas will be recognised and therefore funded by Municipal Communities at least in some places.
During the school year 2009/10, within the youth programme, Caritas of Srijem accomplished educational workshops in the field of communication skills. This programme was organised for the young of Srijem in secondary schools and seniors in primary schools. It was aimed at learning assertive behaviour and assertive rights of coping with conflict situations, i.e. the best way to respect themselves and each others, draw assertive criticism and not to spoil relationship with others.
This programme was organized in secondary schools in Ruma, Pećinci, Stara Pazova, Srijemska Mitrovica and Šid, as well as in primary schools in Beška, Novi Slankamen and Šid. All in all, about 300 young people went through these workshops.
Our Caritas endeavours to cooperate with everyone, especially emphasizing its ecumenical attitude. With that idea in mind, the educational workshops about fight against drug addiction have been organized, and in these workshops schools from the places where there were greater emigration pressures like Zemun and Hrtkovci have participated. In each of the places ten workshops have been organized and children from fourth to seventh grades of primary schools, and of different religions and nationalities, participated.
Humanitarian activities have enabled development of parish Caritas in which groups of volunteers ready to help at any time have been formed and quite a number of these volunteers are active nowadays. There is a tendency to gather them and involve them even more in some creative activities by organising seminars called “Activity and Prospects Of Caritas in Srijem”.
The most recent events include the participation of Caritas of Srijem in the project called “Observation of poverty and resources in the territory of Serbia”, started by Europe Caritas. It has a goal to include the priests and parishes in observation of poverty, through existing project of Caritas and work of employees and volunteers. For this purpose, they use instruments for monitoring the poverty and follow the people they meet in their everyday life. We are trying to inspire some other interested parties, other religious, civil and public institutions, so that the data as well as the experiences about poverty could be exchanged and compared.
While it operates urgently, Caritas makes a database which is important for projects and analyses. At the same time, we strive to develop a structure necessary for present and future, so that Caritas has its president, director, project coordinator and secretary. All these duties have the same aim: to pave the way for the future well, and hear the cry of those who are in need now.
In order to give Caritas a pastoral significance, our employees and volunteers are given all necessary information about the church, and are supplied with the spiritual values. For that reason, Caritas of Srijem organises retreats for its workers once every two months.
In all these activities, the main belief is that every person is an immense value, and that is why our wards are all people in need regardless of religion and nationality, which bears great fruits.
Director of Caritas of Srijem