Orthodox Christian Humanitarian Visit to Kosovo Remains as Planned Amid Border Instability

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The Decani Monastery Relief Fund raises money to help "rebuild" Kosovo

“We’re in the final and most crucial weeks of fundraising for our latest mission to Kosovo. While we are close, we are hoping that the holiday season sparks extra generosity in people and we cross our goal before the first of the year.” Basil Dannebohm

Even as national borders in the Balkans become unstable, the Decani Monastery Relief Fund remains committed to sending its President and Executive Director to Kosovo in February 2012 for a humanitarian relief visit.

Headquartered in Boise, Idaho, the Decani Monastery Relief Fund, a non-profit organization, is committed to rebuilding Kosovo by soliciting financial contributions to support its work there. Once contributions are collected, the monks of the Orthodox Christian Decani Monastery distribute the funds directly for the benefit of Serbian individuals and families living in the war-ravaged communities of the region.

The fund supports six soup kitchens, one bakery, assists in providing daily lunches to four schools as well as shoes and clothing for youth. Additionally, the fund provides sixty-one scholarships to the University of Northern Kosovo as well as scholarship assistance for Serbian youth attending Boise State University, and Hellenic College/Holy Cross Orthodox Theological Seminary.

According to Forum 18 News Service, on December 12th, in attempt to enter Macedonia, at the Medzitlija border-crossing, on the border with Greece, the Archbishop of Ohrid and Metropolitan of Skopje, Jovan, was arrested and taken to the Idrizovo prison, near Skopje.

On December 13th, The Voice of Russia reported that the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo prevented a convoy of Russian humanitarian supplies from entering northern Kosovo via the Jarinje checkpoint on the Serbian border. The convoy consisted of 25 trucks, carrying food, blankets, cutlery, and portable electric generators. After the first two trucks went through the necessary customs formalities, the procedure was interrupted, without any explanation provided.

Archimandrite Nekatarios Serfes, President, and J. Basil Dannebohm, Executive Director, of the Decani Monastery Relief Fund are aware of the potentially dangerous situation in the region and the instability of the Balkan borders but remain optimistic they will cross the border and visit the region safely during the February 2012 trip. “I’ve been visiting the region for more than ten years and have been faced with danger several times,” Serfes said.

He continued, “Proclaiming the Gospel of Christ was not easy for the early Christian Church so we should have no expectation that the road will be paved with ease for us. The beloved people of Kosovo are aware that we are planning this trip and are excited to see us. We will not let them down.”

On behalf of the fund, Serfes and Dannebohm hope to raise $25,000 before their trip which will provide humanitarian aid to refugee centers, provide for the special needs of the elderly, pay electric bills, provide firewood, finance necessary medical and surgical procedures, help to purchase farm equipment and livestock and assist in the rebuilding of the seminary, monasteries and churches of the region.

“We’re in the final and most crucial weeks of fundraising for our latest mission to Kosovo. While we are close, we are hoping that the holiday season sparks extra generosity in people and we cross our goal before the first of the year,” Dannebohm said.

Donations to the Decani Monastery Relief Fund can be made by mail to: 2618 West Bannock Street, Boise, ID 83702 or online at http://www.decanifund.org/donate.

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