Montenegro is a paradise nation at the coast of the Adriatic sea. While the Montenegrins admit the guilt of besieging neighboring city of Dubrovnik in the early 1990s, the wounds of the Croatian war for independence are healing every year. And sitting under the sun on a seaside promenade, enjoying the sound of the waves, it’s hard to believe war exists. But the Russian-Ukrainian war touched every European country: thousands of refugees from war-torn Ukraine and Russians and Belarusians who were forced out of their countries because of their anti-war stance came to Montenegro. The “Pristanište” foundation raising funds on Help Each Other was created to help the refugees.
As Montenegro is not the main European hub for refugees the state’s programs to accommodate the forced migrants are very limited. Some might even say they are non-existent. So, the big question arose: how to accommodate thousands of people, many of whom have neither money, nor jobs and speak neither English, nor Montenegrin. That’s where the “Pristanište” foundation has its roots.
Housing was the most pressing issue. When you rush out of the bombings or run in panic seeing that your country started a war with a neighbor, you don’t have time to think where to live or how to pay rent. But even such a sunny destination as Montenegro is not a comfortable place to sleep on the streets. So those who already settled in Budva, Montenegro cooperated with locals to rent a big villa where the refugees could spend two weeks making a plan for their future. For now, more than 100 people including more than 30 children were housed.
Providing basic necessities such as food and sim-cards with mobile internet was another pressing issue. Many came with no money but even those who were able to afford basic necessities needed some time to calm down and to overcome the stress, without having to worry about such simple things like how to get internet access. The psychological support was not limited to talks with a psychoanalyst. Involving the refugees to peaceful activities such as board games or football was also significant to help them to overcome the trauma.
Legal aid is another important activity of the “Pristanište”’ foundation. Some refugees came to Montenegro having no required documents. Some needed help to translate their documents to Montenegrin and to get an apostille. Some just wanted consultation on legalization and residence permits in Montenegro. For those who decided to stay in Montenegro learning Montenegrin was organized.
The “Pristanište” foundation is creative with fundraising. Besides crowdfunding on Help Each Other platform the Foundation organizes live fundraising events. A charity concert to support a family that came from Mariupol with their beloved pet parrot took place in Open Heart Studio. During the Easter Fair on the central place of Budva people could get crafts from the volunteers of the Foundation giving a donation: 1061.9 euros and 20 hryvnas were raised. Locals are engaging actively: while the war after the collapse of Yugoslavia ended almost thirty years ago, many still remember that feeling of a destroyed life.
Many refugees come with children. Helping them with education is crucial. The “Pristanište” foundation provides the information on the state’s day care centers and schools, purchases places at private day care centers and schools, helps to collect all necessary documents to resume education in Montenegro and to communicate with local educational facilities, organizes language trainings and psychological support for the children forced to change their country of residence. Three educational summer camps with adaptation programs for 40–50 children lasting 10 days each are planned, the expenses for refugees are partly covered. The Foundation actively cooperates with other educational initiatives including those set up by the forced migrants themselves, e.g., the project “Open Ukrainian School” (the “Pristanište” Foundation helps to obtain space for the school, to pay teachers’ salaries, to buy textbooks, notebooks and other needed stuff). To support this crucial activity another fundraising campaign was started.
The Foundation collects and shares feedback from those who got help. If you read Russian, take a look at the comments here and here. If you are in Montenegro and in need of help, please, fill this form. If you are ready to volunteer for the “Pristanište” foundation, please, fill this form. Donate crypto to the “Pristanište” foundation to house the refugees and to provide education to refugees’ children.