Further support to sustainable (re)integration of returnees in Serbia



Further support to sustainable (re)integration of returnees in Serbia

Stories from the Reintegration II project

Aleksandar Vidanović, a Reintegrate II trainer from Pirot

“Our town is small and doesn’t offer many activities primarily for children. We engage them at the Good Neighbor Club Pirot, spark their interest in certain topics, and specifically, I work with them on ecology and environmental preservation. Besides children, I also work with residents of surrounding villages, and through the Reintegration II project, we carry out various cleaning and beautification actions, both in the local approaches to the villages and within the villages themselves. People are thrilled – a little bit of initiative and everyone joins in – one brings a lawnmower, another a chainsaw, we teach them how to safely handle tools, and with a little effort and will, they make a change in their community!”

Ivan Ivanov, an employer from Pirot

“We’ve had this tire car repair workshop for almost three generations now. I say almost because my grandfather opened it towards the end of his life. Business goes on, but sometimes it stalls – if you don’t have the latest equipment and machinery, customers quickly move on to another workshop. Through the Reintegrate II project, we received a machine for mechanical tire repair – you ask me how much it means to me – it means enough that I could hire two beneficiary of the project and also secure my own job! It’s a huge change in our business, saving us time, and with the machine, we manage to stay competitive. It’s three families being supported solely because of one new machine!”

Mejra Baćićanin, participant of the “Peer Mediators” workshops, Novi Pazar

“As a young person, it’s really important to me to have a place where I can talk with peers and at the same time learn how to make the best use of my own potentials, and I definitely achieve that at the Good Neighbor Club Novi Pazar! My family lived in Germany, and there I had the opportunity to attend similar workshops; I’m really glad that upon returning to my hometown Novi Pazar, I can go through the same experience. We can hardly wait to gather together, and a community has already formed that thinks in a similar way even outside the workshops – respecting ourselves and others.”

Ivana Manoilov, recipient of a greenhouse, Dimitrovgrad

“In our village – Prtopopinci, Dimitrovgrad, not much happens. Our greenhouse, which we received through the Reintegration II project, is like a real wonder – everyone comes to visit it, and many have started their own production because they see how yields can be higher and how much it means to a family when you can achieve good financial gains through your own work! We spent over 10 years in Switzerland trying to have a somewhat decent life, but believe me – nowhere else is there such beauty, peace, and joy as in our village! As long as we are alive, we are here, and here we nurture our grandchildren!”

Mijodrag Kučević, Novi Pazar

“I have been retired for almost 10 years. I live in the village of Sebečevo, near Novi Pazar, and I grow raspberries on the old family farm. My grandchildren are coming, thank God we have a big family. I worked in Germany and the Netherlands as a ceramicist, plumber, I don’t even know what jobs I didn’t perform. Life teaches you that you have to know how to do everything if you want to feed your family. Raspberries are my salvation – they heal the soul.

I drink coffee in the morning and go to the field. There is always something to do – to uncover  planted plants, to pull weeds, to tie up a sticking branch. Through the project I got an irrigation system and seedlings. They were well received, we are now waiting to see what the yield will be. It is very important to me that we also received knowledge along with the seedlings – they taught us how to care for seedlings, how to irrigate, many people make mistakes due to ignorance, and all of this affects the yield. I am satisfied, at my age a person looks forward to every new day, and there will be raspberries, I’m sure!”

Amar Džanković, Novi Pazar

“My late uncle opened this inn almost 40 years ago. People in Novi Pazar are specific – everyone likes to have their own place, one place where they drink coffee in the morning and meet friends in the afternoon. It became like a second home to them, so our guest house – although small, became a second home to many. I studied catering high school because I really wanted to continue the family business. It’s not a big profit, let’s face it, but the pride of being in the family surpasses any money and it becomes unimportant. I got a grill and equipment for the inn – tables and new chairs through the project. People were surprised – they say this is not my kafana! They are used to old, torn fabric, so it is unusual for them.

I was trying to stay in Erfurt, Germany, a young hothead who thinks the world is his. It doesn’t work like that, you need papers, a permanent job… I don’t regret coming back, I had a place and I had a job to inherit. Just want to get married – that’s my mother’s biggest concern, but I’m in no hurry!”

The project is led by the German organization ASB (Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund), with the implementation partner Initiative for Development and Cooperation (IDC) from Belgrade, and the beneficiary regions in the project are Pirot, Rasina, and Raška districts. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).