After my (Michelle Brucker's) trip to Belgrade last summer, my eyes were completely opened to the life of a Middle Eastern refugee struggling to get by in an already difficult environment, Belgrade, Serbia, to support economic sustainability for Serbian citizens. The camp I visited, called Krnjaca, is home to about a thousand refugees who look to one room in particular for the little support they get from the community. TheWhile I was visiting, I helped children my age and younger to paint, draw, and decorate tee-shirts. I remember seeing two little sisters, ages 4 and 6, sneaking into the room while only the men were allowed to focus on decorating and painting their own tee-shirts. Recently, the refugees at this camp were provided with the materials necessary for constructing a pool table. This "social cafe" in particular has also allowed for a young boy, by the name of Farhad Noory, to continue pursuing his dream of becoming an artist([Here](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2kK8Kt52S4)is the link on IRC's channel including Farhad's story). He is extremely talented and if you took a look at the video attached to this campaign, you will understand how much potential he and other boys and girls his age have. IRC's programming is a huge source of support for both adults and children at this camp and any investment into their activities, all of which are very useful for the refugees. After speaking to Farhad privately on the first day I met him, I remember asking him why he was so quiet. I had watched his abundant YouTube videos as he was interviewed by many journalists and successful artists. I wondered, out loud, why he was not acting like himself on those videos I had seen. Farhad was too shy to answer me. He told me that it was because Farhad and himself had so many visitors that would come to document and publish their "success" stories as a young artists. He explained to me that he is not as media "famous" as Farhad, but shares the same disappointment. They feel as though they have so many visitors and yet nobody stays to help or comes back to provide them with the freedom all citizens should have. He quickly looked me in the eyes to thank me for coming and to thank me for caring. This refugee crisis is ongoing and the only way for these individuals to be helped is from the support of individuals aware of the situation in these few remote locations in which refugees are welcomed.
As people start to despair over the uncertainty of their immediate future, the situation gets more tense both among refugees and between refugees and camp authorities. The social cafes and related occupational / recreational activities through IRC programming are really crucial to channel people’s energy elsewhere and keep their hopes and mental health up. Over a period of 12 months in 2017, IRC Serbia estimates that the total number of individuals who have passed through those two camps is approximately 7 500. It is therefore small contributions that would go to IRC Serbia's programming for things like the Social Cafe. And with your help, IRC programs in Serbia like the Social Café could be sustained longer than expected.Please do not hesitate to ask any questions or express any concerns you may have. Thank you!!!