Tea and friendship in the OM tent

OM International | Serbia

Preparing 600 litres of tea, served with a smile (and lots of sugar) all day, every day, is the sort of friendly activity which makes OM’s tent a place of refuge, within the refugee camp in Sid, Serbia, near the border with Croatia.

From December 2015 to summer 2016, the OM tent was in continual use. Then the local authority closed the camp down, as refugee numbers fell. But with the numbers climbing again this autumn, the camp was reopened, and OM was invited back mid-October.

Soon the camp had become home to 1300 adults and children. Volker* from OM Montenegro has been the project coordinator for the past year. In his latest bulletin he observes, “in general the people seem very depressed, as you can imagine, so we hope our tent can be a place of joy and encouragement”.

It’s a relief when the weather is fine; some of the OM team have been able to play football and table tennis outdoors with the kids and youth, meaning the youngsters can burn off some energy. “Our small group of OM Serbia guys are doing a great job, in shifts of eight hours a day, and we’ve got a fun mix of volunteers too”, comments Volker. The seven current volunteers come from Italy, Holland, America, Brazil and France.

As well as the practical mix of tea and sports, there are spiritual moments, like when the two French volunteers met some refugees from the Cameroon, who are believers, and the two groups could pray and praise God in their shared language. Another highlight Volker recalls was how a little Afghan girl reacted to being given an OM comic in her language, Farsi: “She was so happy that she ran away to read it, hiding it from the other kids so she could keep it for herself!”, Volker recalls.

Will you pray:

  • That the refugees will experience God’s love and hope in the atmosphere of the OM tent.
  • For joy and energy for the OM staff.
  • For the team members who coordinate on-site, dealing with the logistics of meeting big demands – for strength and health to bear their responsibilities.
  • As the Balkan winter begins, for the best use of the facility when the refugees will be crowding inside it in cold weather.

Will you give, or go?

  • More volunteers are needed, to help for a week, or two.
  • Financial resources are needed to heat the tent, and brewing those 600 litres of tea daily takes a lot of bottled gas, cups, tea and sugar.

*Surname not included for security reasons

Published: Friday, 13 January 2017
Credit: OM International
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