An area the size of Slovenia was flooded and thousands of people needed to be evacuated. Here in Serbia, many left in the middle of the night to avoid the almost 2 meter high waters that inundated their homes and apartment blocks. According to the officials, so far 25 people lost their lives and over 25,000 people fled to evacuee centers in Belgrade or found lodging with friends or family.
The response to the disaster from our school and the entire country was incredible. Thousands of volunteers came out to help fill and carry sand bags, rescue stranded people with boats, etc. I heard immediately from parents, students, and teachers, asking for the school to organize a donation drive. In just a few days, our gymnasium was filled with clothes, diapers, water, canned food, etc. in response to a call for donations.
The students helped out by sorting and delivering the goods to evacuee centers around the city. Many of the students held fundraising events like bake sales, theatre performances, donation drives, etc. The high school students asked for a school-wide assembly to explain what happened and to outline the school's relief efforts. The Board of Trustees and Staff Association are distributing cash donations to our employees from Obrenovac, a city 30 kilometers from Belgrade, located on the banks of the Sava River. We also selected a special needs school in Obrenovac to help. They need everything, from new flooring and paint, to books and school supplies. We also heard from other CEESA schools, asking how they could help.
The city of Obrenovac is covered with mud and some areas are still inaccessible. There is no electricity, water, or mobile phone service. Most people have not been able to get back to their homes. There is much more work still to be done to get the flood victims' lives back to normal. The school hopes to continue helping and community service initiatives are being planned.
With all of this sadness and tragedy, it has been wonderful to see the kindness and caring of the people of Serbia and our ISB community. It is also nice as an international educator to get the opportunity to help out our host nation of Serbia and make a difference in the lives of those impacted by the disaster.
Bill Kralovec, Upper School Principal, International School of Belgrade