Bishop Atanasije, representatives of NGO "Mother of the Nine Jugoviches" visit Metohija enclaves

16. April 2010 - 17:53
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Bishop Atanasije, the administrator of the Diocese of Raška-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija, visited Serbian villages - returnees to Metohija today, together with protopresbyter Bogomir Stević from Zvečan and presbytera Svetlana Stević, chairwoman of the NGO “Majka devet Jugovića” (Mother of the Nine Jugoviches). First, the village of Novake near Suva Reka, where twenty Serbian families have returned to their destroyed village. The NGO “Majka devet Jugovića” distributed 20 piglets, one for each family, among them. The piglets are a gift from the humanitarian organization “Srbi za Srbe” (Serbs for Serbs), which has been helping the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija for three years through “Majka devet Jugovića”. After speaking with the Serb returnees, Bishop Atanasije with Father Mihajlo Tosić and presbyter Aleksander Našpalić also visited the village Church of the Unmercenary Physicians on the hilltop above the village in the midst of torched Serbian vineyards. The foundation of the church (probably built on an older foundation) in the old Serbian cemetery was blessed by Bishop, later Patriarch, Pavle of blessed repose, and it was consecrated by Bishop Artemije soon after his arrival in this Diocese. In the tragic events of 1999 the church was vandalized and torched, and there was an attempt to destroy it using a bomb or dynamite but it was not destroyed. However, the graveyard around the church was destroyed, and there is not one intact tombstone. The original bell was stolen and taken away; another bell was given as a gift by a German sergeant, the Roman Catholic Miller, but two days ago, probably at night, it was toppled from the belltower and taken away by Albanian thieves. A few days ago the Serbs in the village of Novake caught two thieves from the neighboring Albanian village red-handed and the police took them to jail. The village has a lot of trouble with wolves, wild pigs and dogs, who have flooded this fertile valley from Novake to Gornja Srbica and Donja Srbica, where a vast majority of Serbs lived before the horrible events.

After the village of Novake, with Father Bogomir and presbytera Svetlana and donors from Belgrade, young men and women, they visited the returnee village of Žač in Klina municipality (near Osojane), where about thirty Serb returnees, i.e. representatives of families, are living in tents provided by UNHCR. These returnees are determined to stay in their village and have houses built for them despite weeks of pressure from local Albanians to prevent the return of Serbs to this village. Presently, the villagers are also using a damaged house without windows and doors where they eat together. Among the returnees is a little girl, Jovana, who is four and a half years old. The returnees are occasionally visited by the Kosovo police. Both Bishops previously visited the Serbs in Žač and brought them about 40 blankets, 500 liters of “Odmenjska” mineral water, a gift from Studenica Monastery, a generator and a chainsaw. After Easter they visited them and brought them Easter eggs. Before leaving, presbytera Svetlana left food and hygienic materials for the returnees, and soon through the organization "Srbi za Srbe" they will also receive wood-burning stoves, bedding, blankets and pillows. The intention of the Diocese is to assist these returnees in re-starting their life so that after their houses are built it will also be necessary to obtain livestock, agricultural machinery and everything necessary for some semblance of normal life.

Finally, they visited the village of Vidanje near Klina together, where Serbs returned a few years ago. After meeting with the Serbs, and especially the school children, they toured the renovation of rooms in Serb houses where a sixth soup kitchen, the first in Metohija, will be opened to prepare and distribute food for the poorer villages, especially Žač where normal living conditions do not yet exist. As a result of the misuse of funds for the hungry in Kosovo by the previous administration of the Diocese, especially Simeon Vilovski, there was a serious shortage of funds, and one of the priorities of Bishops Atanasije and Teodosije is to raise new funds to continue the normal operation of existing soup kitchens and to open new ones to serve the needs of the most vulnerable. For this purpose, the money from the recently sold Audi 6 (used until recently by Bishop Artemije, who now has at his disposal another, smaller diocesan car) will be used for the fifth and sixth soup kitchens, thus compensating for the theft committed by Simeon Vilovski, who then fled to Greece.