|Volume 9, No. 3||WINTER 2006|
IOCC’s 3rd Annual Study Tour to
Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina
IOCC’s annual Study Tour to Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina always affords supporters the opportunity to witness first hand how IOCC’s development programs benefit farmers, small business people, returning displaced families, and civil society organizations. But last September’s trip was made even more special by a rare opportunity to visit the troubled province of Kosovo, now under United Nations mandate and home to several IOCC projects. The tour, which was led by IOCC Executive Director and CEO Constantine M. Triantafilou, and included ten other supporters and staff, also visited various IOCC projects including a children’s orphanage in Belgrade, Serbia, and micro-credit beneficiaries throughout Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. It was especially rewarding to have the opportunity to meet beneficiaries of IOCC projects, many of whom had been made refugees during the war in Bosnia, and who have returned to their homes and are now thriving as farmers and small business owners.
Study Tour articipants meet with His Grace IRINEJ (Dobrijevic), Serbian Bishop of Australia and New Zealand. Photos: A. Morcos/IOCC
“The generous hospitality of the beneficiaries really stood out to me. They didn’t have much to give, but they wanted to give what they could.”
(Left) The Oljaca family of Novi Grad, IOCC recipients of agricultural machinery; (Right) Constantine M. Triantafilou with IOCC Banja Luka staffers Dusko Vucic and Zoran Micic.
“You could see from their smiles how proud they were that they could be self-sustaining.”
The Una River Valley in Bosnia-Herzegovina, home of IOCC micro-credit clients working in agriculture, services, and trade.
“The professionalism of IOCC’s Bosnia staff was exceeded only by their love and dedication to their mission. Their relationship with the community is like the bridge between IOCC beneficiaries and donors.”
Belgrade’s new St. Sava Cathedral.
“It was especially gratifying to see how IOCC is helping the whole person and the whole community. IOCC helped during
the Bosnian war, but it wasn’t just an emergency effort but a complete reestablishment of communities.”
Father Louis Christopulos
Danka Latinovic, one of IOCC’s first returnees to Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
“The tour gave me a greater perspective because I could actually speak and interact with people whose lives have been changed by IOCC. That was the gift of the trip.”
The Culic family hosted participants at
their greenhouse farm in Novi Grad.
“In the U.S. we talk about needing hundreds of thousands of dollars to start a business. But in Bosnia and Serbia,
the loan amounts were not very much at all, but they had tremendous impact.”
The farmlands of western Bosnia-Herzegovina.
“The ingenuity that the beneficiaries showed and the creativity that they had in rebuilding their lives was inspiring. They took what they were given and they ran with it. What would it be like to lose your home and come back daring to start over again?”
Father Paul Wesche
Participants visit Monastery Soko in western Serbia.
Orthodox Church of America