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Volume 9, No. 1SPRING 2006

Hope Firsthand: The 2005 IOCC Study Trip
Serbia-Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina

From Aug. 29 - Sept. 7, IOCC Executive Director Constantine Triantafilou led a group of 11 committed supporters, including three clergy, on a study tour of Serbia-Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Participants visited IOCC projects in both countries and saw, firsthand, how IOCC’s efforts are continuing to make positive impacts in the lives of those served.

“Foreign travel is often exciting but we tend to focus on the history and landmarks of each county. This special trip was an opportunity to immerse ourselves in the culture and everyday life of struggling humankind and to see with our own eyes how God’s work makes a difference. Our lives will be changed forever.”
— Peter & Joan Calott, Minneapolis, MN

“Over ten days, we would meet people and hear stories of sadness, destruction, families torn apart, neighbors moved from their homes, and loved ones lost. The numbers of those affected, directly or indirectly, by the war in the former Yugoslavia were staggering; thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions. But the magnitude of these numbers pales in comparison to the reality that behind every number is an individual: an individual created in the image and likeness of God. Our trip wasn’t designed to impress upon us the numbers, but rather to share in IOCC’s programs assisting those individuals less fortunate. These are our God-given gifts we offer to those with whom we share that very same image and likeness.”
— Steve Kreta, San Francisco, CA

“Throughout the trip I was continually impressed by the IOCC staff. It was not only their unbelievable commitment to the activities in these communities that struck me, but their sincere connection to the people they are serving. It is clear that IOCC doesn’t work with a community, they work within it, creating a sense of ownership and true participation among the beneficiaries.”
— Nicole Minor, Houston, TX

“The two highlights of the study trip for me involved the shortest adult I have ever seen and one of the tallest men I have ever met. Standing less than five feet tall and 91 years of age, His Holiness Patriarch Pavle of the Serbian Orthodox Church awarded IOCC the Order of St. Sava, First Degree (the highest ecclesiastical award in the Serbian Church) in recognition of IOCC’s work since 1992. His Holiness stated: ‘The award is presented on behalf of all the Serbian people to Constantine and IOCC who were there for us during our most difficult times. I present this to you with my heart-felt appreciation. I know first hand all that IOCC has done for us. There was always a light for us, and that light was provided to us by IOCC, and that light continues to shine, even unto this very day.’ The second highlight was having the 7’2” Vlade Divac, a Serbian born U.S.A. NBA superstar, spend the entire day accompanying us throughout central Serbia. A longtime IOCC benefactor, Vlade is a ‘true hero’ of this nation as he generously reaches out to everyone.”
— Fay Zaharas, Cheyenne, WY

Photo: Vecernje Novosti - Belgrade, 9/1/05

“I encourage you to participate in one of the future study trips, whether it be to Serbia and Bosnia or some other place where IOCC is working ... And when you go, be prepared to come home changed, invigorated and committed.”
— Fr. David G. Barr, Pastor of St. Elias
Antiochian Orthodox Church in Austin, TX

“So often, a very simple request to a worthy cause is all our faithful need. As clergy, we must provide our flock with opportunities to exhibit their love to the people of the world. Almsgiving, along with prayer and fasting, is the instruction of our Lord.”
— Fr. Anastasios Bourantas, Pastor of St. George
Greek Orthodox Church in Media, PA

Milada was one of the beneficiaries visited during the 2005 Study Trip. Through the support of IOCC’s micro-credit loans, Milada has been able to secure a steady source of income to support her family while insuring that her pasta business will continue to grow well into the future.

“Whatever type of material assistance IOCC provides, it pales in comparison to the hope it creates for families with so little, for villages, and for entire municipalities.”
— Fr. Marc Vranes, Pastor of Holy Trinity
Orthodox Church (OCA) in Bristol, CT

“‘Without the eyes to see, the heart cannot feel,’ were the words of a refugee woman we met the first day of our trip in Serbia. Since then I often reflect on the significance of this statement. Many people have asked about the study trip and even when I tell them stories of the people and their hardships, I know it is not the same as being blessed with having experienced it first hand. IOCC has made such a difference in the lives of these individuals.”
— Lisa Xanthos, Los Angeles, CA

Serbia-Montenegro & Bosnia-Herzegovina: Sept. 5 - 13 tentatively
Jerusalem & the West Bank: Nov. 7 - 14 tentatively
For more information contact Dan Christopulos by
clicking here for email or call toll-free 877-803-4622.

Click here to download a printable
IOCC Study Trip poster to display in your parish.

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Hope Firsthand: The 2005 IOCC Study Trip: Serbia-Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina

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