Montenegro Soup Kitchens
|Volume 16, No. 1
Nourish Body And Soul
Dragica, 70, was uprooted from her lifelong home in Kosovo a decade ago and fled to the nearby country of Montenegro. All alone with no family to assist her, the elderly woman had to scavenge building scraps from a nearby railway yard to cobble together the one-room shanty she now calls home. Donated blankets and clothing provide some warmth, but Dragica lived in constant hunger from a lack of food or a place to cook it.
The influx of more than 20,000 war refugees into this small former republic of Yugoslavia, along with a severe economic downturn in recent years has increased the number of people in need of emergency assistance. Many of the newly needy in Montenegro were self-sufficient in the past, but most are now unemployed for the first time in their lives and depend on food donations and public soup kitchens to survive.
Through a generous gift given in memory of Ms. Mela Vujicic, IOCC in cooperation with the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Montenegro and Littoral, rebuilt and equipped two soup kitchens to feed 300 of the area's poorest residents. The existing soup kitchen in Podgorica received minor repairs along with new industrial quality kitchen equipment and cooking tools. In Cetinje, a donated home was reconstructed to accommodate large-scale prepping and cooking areas, as well as a special service window for handing out hot meals.
Every day at noon, mothers with young children and the elderly arrive at the church soup kitchens with empty take away containers, and leave with fresh bread and a hearty helping of soup or stew prepared by members of the ladies' church auxiliary. Soup kitchen supervisor, Deacon Miomir Vulevic, says the daily contact with Dragica and the others does more than just nourish their bodies. "We are her closest family. She comes often to visit us, to talk and to be listened by someone. It is not just having a hot meal, it is having someone who cares about you."