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Love and Light

Region 4 - Food Parcels for Croatia

Each year, as part of our Ceiling on Desires initiative, devotees at our centre donate food items to make up food parcels for families living in refugee camps in Croatia. And everyone at the Centre is involved in this activity - some of the SSE Children gave up a ‘goody’ item from their lunch boxes e.g. packet of crisps, and donate the saving for the food parcel! Some of the adults reduced the amount of beverages consumed at their work place and used the savings towards the food parcel! Everyone found some unique way to help with this very worthwhile project.

The need for food parcels in Croatia arose from the civil war in the former Yugoslavia. The country has now been split up, leaving many still living in refugee camps. These camps were temporary accommodation, but like many other places in the world, they tend to end up as permanent/semi-permanent units.

We work with Refugee Relief Charity based in Wellingborough, and they manage transport & distribution of the food parcels in Croatia. A number of devotees from our Centre have made trips to get first-hand experience of distributing the food parcels, in refugee camps in Zagreb & in Vukovar, a city in eastern Croatia near the border with Serbia.

Around beginning of October, Refugee Relief charity provide a list of basic food items to make up the food parcels – sugar, flour, milk powder, oil, pasta, rice, cans of vegetable, fruit tins, cereal bars, biscuits, cereal boxes, etc – and devotees at our Centre then provide items from the list. The food items are collected over a number of weeks at our Centre, starting from Sunday 21 October to Sunday 11 November.

The food items are then sorted by devotees from our Centre (about 20 volunteers) and the food items packed into carton boxes, each box made up of all items from the list, in similar way to the ‘shoe boxes for Christmas’ principle. This year we made up 153 boxes, a tremendous achievement by devotees at our Centre.

The boxes were then transported to Wellingborough, from where they were loaded onto a large lorry bound for Croatia. The lorry for Croatia is filled with lots of other items – desks, chairs, bicycles, wheelchairs, household goods, etc – all for distributing to needy people in Croatia. This year, the lorry was loaded on Saturday 17 November. And each year, a number of volunteers (between 10 & 15) help with loading the lorry, and each year, the food parcels are distributed in Croatia from around 23 November – Swami’s Birthday!