Christmas Gifts for Children in Bijela, Montenegro (by Christian Brandt)

Christmas Gifts for

Children in Bijela,

Montenegro

46 people from all around the world donated 2.195€ which was enough to buy, gift-wrap and deliver 100 Christmas presents to the children’s home Mladost in Bijela on January 7th in 2021!

 

Published on 10 Jan. 2021

by Christian Brandt

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Estimated Reading Time: 6 min

"To me there is no picture so beautiful as smiling, bright-eyed, happy children." 

(P. T. Barnum)

There is no time in the year as characterized by selflessness, kindness, and gentleness as Christmas – the time for giving. We rack our brains to think of the perfect gift that makes our loved ones happy, whether it is our spouse, a good friend, our parents, siblings or our kids. Most of us still remember the excitement we felt as a child right before we were allowed to rip off the wrapping paper of our gifts, sometimes even days before Christmas, asking ourselves whether we get the remote-control car, or the doll set we put on the Christmas list. In many cases, our wishes were satisfied, sometimes even exceeded, but in most parts of the world reality looks different.

 

I crossed the Montenegrin border in October 2020, and it didn’t take for me long to fall in love with the country. Stunning landscapes combined with medieval old towns left me speechless more than once, and the welcoming people made me realize, that Montenegro was the perfect place to settle for the next three months. This meant, that it would be my first Christmas abroad, and it also meant, that unlike last year’s Christmas campaign of Giving Getaway, I would have the chance to set up a charity project on site.

Happy Kid (Giving Getaway)

Children deserve all the support and love in the world

Children's Home Mladost in Bijela, Montenegro

That is what I believe, and that is why I decided to focus my research on organizations that do their best in supporting children in need. Soon, I came across the children's home in Bijela in Kotor Bay, in fact the only one of this kind in the whole country. Since 1946 the "Dječiji Dom Mladost" in Bijela is taking care of children that are deprived of parental care and whose development is hindered by family circumstances and currently (as of December 2020) they accommodate 100 children aged between 2 and 18.

 

With the help of the Montenegrin government and generous investors, the children's home Mladost  in Bijela was able to modernize its facility and  improve the standard of living significantly, bringing it to the same level of European standards in the area of educational institutions. Striving to create a healthy environment for the children to grow and develop various skills in order to prepare them for an independent life, the children’s home implemented educational and social activities, giving them the opportunity to engage in volunteering and work activities.

 

Combined with full time social support, high quality education and professional non-parental care, the children’s home Mladost lays the foundation of a bright and well-prepared future for the kids. So far about the “basis framework” of the kids and the exemplary work of the children’s home, but what is it now that we can do to help?

Small gestures with a big impact

A Christmas gift may not contribute to paving the way for a better future and it certainly won’t substitute the warmth and closeness of a loving family. But what Christmas gifts can do, is create wonderful moments and connect the children not only with each other, but also with the giver – with you and me!

 

I visited the children’s home Mladost in Bijela in November 2020 to get in touch with the owners and to find out how to sweeten the upcoming Christmas days for the kids, which will be celebrated on January 7th since Eastern Orthodox Christianity is the dominant religion in Montenegro. The result was a list with Christmas wishes from all 100 children. From clothes, cosmetics and house shoes to basketballs, headphones and rattles for the little ones, the wishes are decent, and I really believe that these things are the least these children deserve.

 

Nevertheless, I had to realize that this project was beyond my capabilities, which is why I asked friends, family, and the Giving Getaway Community to support me by donating any amount of money they can give – and the result was overwhelming!  

Children deserve love and support (Giving Getaway)

Together we made a difference!

Giving Getaway's Christmas Campaign Team 2021

All in all, 2.195€ have been donated by 46 people from all around the world, which was enough to buy, gift-wrap and deliver the Christmas presents to the children’s home Mladost in Bijela on January 7th! The feedback and support I received from all the donors, my neighbors in Risan and people who contacted me on Instagram and Facebook left me speechless. A big thank you goes to Mike from Poland, my next-door neighbor and meanwhile good friend of mine, who supported me from the very beginning and who was there to help during the whole process! Most importantly, he helped me purchasing most of the gifts, which was much more work than I  expected. It took us five whole days and four cities to find everything, with a pair of rollerblades for an eleven year-old girl as the most challenging part.

Meghan and Phil from California contacted me on Facebook and were so kind to purchase all the gifts that included cosmetics and helped us delivering all the gifts to the children’s home on Christmas. But that’s not all: Jagoda from Poland supported us by buying remote control cars, and together with Dace and Kalvis from Latvia, Max from Russia and Olivera and Jovana from Montenegro, who both came all the way from Podgorica and brought more wrapping paper and further clothing donations, we all were able to wrap up all the gifts in just one day!

"The more we share, the more we have."​

On January 7th, Mike, Dace, Meghan, Phil, and I set out for the children’s home, with 100 gifts in our two cars! Unfortunately, due to the corona pandemic, we were not allowed to hand over the gifts directly to the kids and teenagers, but that is not important. What is important, is that two dedicated employees, who spent their days working in the children’s home on Christmas, took and handed over the gifts, and knowing that we were able to bring some wonderful Christmas moments safely to these kids and teenagers in times of the pandemic is a feeling that is hard to beat!

 

I would like to thank everyone who helped and supported this campaign in any way! It may have started with me, but it ended with dozens of people being involved. Follow Giving Getaway on Instagram to always be up to date with upcoming charity events, and never forget: “Don’t believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have” (Margaret Mead).

List of Donors

  • John Knight 

  • Juliana Saldanha 

  • Irma Schaab 

  • Friedrich Jäckel 

  • Simona Bošković 

  • Bojana M. 

  • Sarah Đurović  

  • Olivia Meli 

  • Valentina Färber 

  • Sarah Protte 

  • Serkan Biricik 

  • Ali Grinham 

  • Lia Demirelli 

  • Caroline Harvey 

  • Gaar Schlender 

  • Lisa McGurnaghan 

  • Meghan Lamb 

  • Nadja Jonica Sredojevic 

  • Alexej Hinz 

  • Vanessa Protte 

  • Anna Osowska

  • Annabel Glassen 

  • Kristina Jonica 

  • Mike Bielefeldt 

  • Ewgeni Ilinich 

  • Mei Sirikit 

  • Waldemar Brandt  

  • Viktor Jäckel 

  • Linda Herfs  

  • Andrej Hense 

  • Michaela Dalmis 

  • Fearless Fall

  • Dietmar Protte 

  • A&E Scherfl 

  • Klara Engel 

  • Elizabeth (@one_eyed_lizzy)

  • Martin Rebro 

  • Familien Brandt, Jäckel & Engel 

  • Waldemar Justus 

  • Anonym (x7)

Receipts

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