At Indigo Volunteers, we firmly believe in the transformative power of partnership and collaboration to drive positive change in the world.
In Serbia, we are incredibly proud to be partnered with two remarkable organisations: Refugee Aid Serbia and Collective Aid. These organisations are unwavering in their commitment to providing displaced individuals with access to fundamental rights, focusing on education, hygiene facilities and human rights violations.
In this blog post, we shine a spotlight on the exceptional work carried out by our partners in Serbia, as well as our Indigo volunteers who play an indispensable role in driving change. Through their efforts, our partner organisations provide essential support and help restore dignity and agency to countless individuals.
Refugee Aid Serbia
Refugee Aid Serbia (RAS) is making a significant impact in the humanitarian sector by providing informal education and recreational workshops to migrants and refugees in Belgrade. The organisation extends its support to a wide range of vulnerable groups, including women and children, promoting an inclusive approach to education across all ages and genders. RAS caters to individuals from various countries, including Afghanistan, Burundi, DR Congo, Cuba, and Ukraine, showcasing the complex global reality of displacement.
Empowering through Education
The work of RAS is directly tailored to fulfilling the educational and recreational needs of refugees and migrants. Their key initiative, ‘Survival English Classes', equips refugees and migrants with the ability to communicate their urgent needs related to health, clothing, and seeking assistance. This not only enables refugees and migrants to access emergency aid but also restores their agency through the ability to articulate their own needs. In the winter of 2022-23 alone, RAS delivered an impressive 1,015 hours of classes. RAS has further expanded its curriculum to include:
Arts and crafts (workshop)
Cake decorating (workshop)
Beyond meeting immediate needs, the language and subject classes, paired with the recreational workshops, are instrumental in facilitating integration, well-being, and the ability of displaced individuals to rebuild their lives in new environments. RAS’ holistic approach ensures that refugees and migrants not only receive vital support but also have opportunities for creative expression and personal development.
Indigo Volunteers: The heart of RAS’s impact
Our volunteers are the backbone of RAS operations. In the winter period of 2022- 23, RAS was able to deliver classes and recreational activities to 47 service users, thanks to the dedication of 28 volunteers. Our Indigo volunteers play a crucial role by:
Teaching languages (English, German, French, Spanish) and mathematics
Organising creative workshops.
Beyond offering vital language support and offering a welcome respite through creative workshops, RAS actively tackles the educational challenges brought about by displacement. Ensuring the continuity of these programs is crucial to providing educational support to refugees and migrants who have been separated from the traditional education system, particularly children in their early stages of development.
See videos of our volunteers in action here.
Collective Aid is an organisation that plays a vital role in providing basic hygiene and human rights assistance to those in need. At Indigo Volunteers, we are firmly committed to supporting organisations that restore hygiene and dignity for displaced individuals, and we are incredibly proud to match volunteers with Collective Aid in their Subotica and Belgrade locations. Our dedicated Indigo volunteers are making a tangible difference through their various roles, including:
distributing NFI (non-food items),
assisting with laundry and wash services,
collecting border violence testimonies,
working with warehouse distributions
In Subotica, Collective Aid supports people on the move along the Hungarian, Croatian and Romanian border. The organisation provides access to showers, clothes and washing services, food, safe water, and essential material aid. These services serve as a crucial access point for vital aid and hygiene solutions for thousands of people, particularly during the dangerously cold winters. Between June to September 2021, Collective Aid provided the following hygiene and NFI distributions:
181 loads of laundry
3,471 clothing items
114 bedding items
778 bars of soap
3,147 wet wipes
In Belgrade, Collective Aid has been operating a WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) centre since late 2020. Here, people can have their clothing washed, access a hot shower, and exchange their socks. This seemingly simple service addresses a basic need that can make a world of difference for individuals facing harsh conditions daily, as people on the move have limited access to hygiene amenities. Within the first year of operation, the WASH centre provided:
2,383 loads of laundry
Access to drinking water
Access to information regarding other responsible needs-based organisations
Beyond fulfilling a basic right, the ability to access showers and laundry services can significantly impact the dignity and comfort of displaced individuals, and act as a point of respite.
Human Rights Monitoring
As part of the Border Violence Monitoring Network, Collective Aid addresses human rights concerns in Subotica and Belgrade through collecting border violence testimonies. As many displaced individuals are highly vulnerable to human rights abuses, monitoring and reporting these incidents are essential for their safety and well-being. The 23 border violence reports taken by Subotica volunteers in the Summer of 2021 demonstrate this crucial aspect of our volunteers’ work with Collective Aid. Reports can be used to hold perpetrators accountable, prevent the recurrence of incidents, serve as evidence, and raise awareness about the dangers faced by displaced individuals.
Support our work in Serbia
Despite their remarkable efforts, our partner’s work in Serbia is at risk: ongoing fundraising challenges threaten the continuation of Refugee Aid Serbia’s language classes, and Collective Aid’s work in Subotica has frequently encountered funding challenges that impact food distributions. For our partners in Serbia to continue to make a difference, they need our support now more than ever.
At Indigo, we support our partners in Serbia in multiple ways:
Fee-free connections to skilled volunteers We conduct fee-free volunteer matching to connect committed and skilled volunteers with organisations such as RAS and Collective Aid; this allows our partners to expand the impact and reach of their work without extra costs.
Effortless recruitment By organising volunteer-matching, we alleviate our partners of the administrative tasks involved in volunteer recruitment. This allows them to focus more time, energy and resources on their life-changing projects.
Training & Mental health support Throughout our partners’ projects, we also provide unwavering access to mental health support, training, knowledge-sharing and resources that amplify the impact of projects whilst acknowledging the needs of all individuals involved.
Ultimately, we are only able to continue supporting our partners through the ongoing contributions of our incredible Indigo donors.
To help us send volunteers to our partners in Serbia and ensure their projects can continue, become a recurring donor today,
or organise a fundraiser for Indigo - get some tips here
Your involvement will make an immense difference to the lives of displaced individuals in Serbia and beyond.