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It was just a beginning
Wednesday, 10 September 2014 Written by Magdalena Mišković

Let’s see... What would be the best way to present Africa to you? You’ve probably heard people calling it the continent of a thousand hills and a million smiles... And that is just what Africa is. As the popular Croatian song goes, “just one among the many.” I can say that I was one of the many who wished they could go to Africa. Very often, we listen to other people who tell us stories about their travels and if someone mentions Africa, we feel such a desire to go there ourselves! But for many that dream will probably never become reality.

It was just a beginning

Well, my name is Magdalena and my dream became reality just a couple of days ago. I’m overjoyed! I can’t tell you how happy I am. I’m not only happy because I have traveled here... it is much, much more than that. The village of Kivumu, where I’m staying, is a place you might have found out about while reading on this website both the bad and good news of Rwanda - the genocide and the assassination of fra Vjeko Ćurić - but also the construction of the school for children. I’m not much different from others. Of course, I knew about the first two things, but I only found about the school construction project about two years ago.

I remember it just as if it was yesterday. My sister, uncle and I were waiting for a meeting and chatting about everyday things. During the conversation, my sister mentioned that Katarina Baotić was leaving for Africa in a couple of days to do some volunteer work. Mild jealousy – I’m not ashamed to say – was born inside me at that very moment because, just as any other person, I immediately thought, “Lucky her! I wouldn’t mind going myself!” After talking to my uncle and thinking about it for a little while, I decided. I would help as much as I could from my country, and then I would make sure that one day I would also go there, to the village of Kivumu, which has fostered ties with my parish of Tolisa for many years.

The first thing we had to do was to get organized and to decide in what way we wanted to help. Katarina, who was already in Kivumu, was a constant support by phone. At any given moment, I could ask her what she thought would be the best way to proceed, how to do things, in what way... and so on. Then, over coffee, we met Maja and Željko, a couple who had traveled to Kivumu and who had brought back loads of souvenirs for sale... Now, we were ready to get our hands dirty! Everyone took part in the activities: the parish priest, as well as other priests and nuns in the friary, the Franciscan Youth members, and many, many other parishioners.

Our activities consisted of selling souvenirs in front of the church, organizing musical concerts presented by Joseline and Tomas, some street performances and photo exhibitions. Some people had been doing this fundraising for quite some time, and for others, it was the first time they had been involved in anything related to Africa. The money raised was donated to the school construction project, but our efforts didn’t end there. On the contrary, it was just the beginning...

Translated by Branimir Mlakić
Edited by Valerie Kae Ken

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