Caritas Serbia was established in 1995 to provide care and support to the vast number of people exiled from their homes and the large number of refugees arriving as a result of the civil war in the Balkan region. Caritas Serbia in these years provided assistance in food, fuel, shelter to thousands of people. Four years later, Caritas Serbia provided help after the NATO bombing destroyed hundreds of homes leaving thousands people without food and shelter. Caritas Serbia responded with a 3 year project known as SAO to distribute family packages, wood-burning stoves and firewood and assisted social centres, hospitals, nursing homes and children’s institutions. Today, they continue their mission of bringing effective help to those most in need through programmes such as humanitarian aid and relief, home care for the sick and elderly, advocating for rights of people in area of mental care, youth drug prevention and peacebuilding programmes.
At home or abroad, Caritas Serbia organises humanitarian aid and emergency relief to those affected by natural disasters or conflict, such as floods, landslides and earthquakes. Such was the case in 2011 when Caritas Serbia immediately responded with supplies when an epic 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck the north-east coast of Japan in March, 2011, killing thousands and sweeping away homes leaving 300,000 people homeless without food, clean water and power. For the first time Caritas Serbia organised a fundraising campaign and gathered about 14.000 Euro worth of help which was sent to the affected region. Similar action was taken after an earthquake in Italy when about 5.000 Euro was collected and sent. The last urgent action Caritas undertook was for the help to the families of those that lost their lives in the floods and landslides. The action covered about one thousand of the families in numerous regions of Serbia. The help consisted of basic food, hygienic and construction supplies.
Collaboration with Caritas members and other donors is a hallmark of Caritas Serbia. In early 2000s, the organisation embarked on a partnership with Caritas Italy to establish the first mental health programme to provide psychiatric care to those suffering from mental disorders, depression and schizophrenia; rescuing them from deplorable living conditions, abandoned by their families and institutions.
Caritas Serbia social programmes have been oriented towards refugees and internally displaced persons from Kosovo, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the local population that are in social need. Their Home Care programme, supported mainly by Caritas Germany, upgrades the life quality of the elderly that are sick, alone and physically handicapped. Visiting nurses and household assistants travel to their homes to measure blood pressure, change clothes, wash, provide physiotherapy, housekeeping, bring groceries and provide transportation.
Caritas Serbia organises youth workshops in schools to educate children and young people with effective, fact-based drug education to prevent them from experimenting with drugs. In the second phase, workshops are dedicated to creation, promotion and strengthening of peace building initiatives.
Caritas Serbia main office is in Belgrade and serves as the focal point for the 5 Caritas diocesan offices throughout Serbia. In total depending on projects Caritas employs approximately 100 people and has a network of few hundred volunteers.
Caritas Serbia is a member of Caritas Internationalis and Caritas Europe and actively collaborates and receives support from the global Caritas confederation; such as with members Caritas Germany and Caritas Italy.
Archbishop Stanislav Hocevar
Rev. Ivica Damjanovic
Mr Darko Tot
Visegradska 23, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia