<% Dim strHeader strHeader = "Spiritual Nourishment for the Soul" strOptionalText = "January 2007" Call HtmlHeader(strHeader,strOptionalText) Call HTMLLeft()%>
Icon of Christ the Pantokrator (6th century) from St. Catherine's Monastery, Mt. Sinai
Icon of Christ the Pantokrator (6th century) from St. Catherine's Monastery, Mt. Sinai.

School Children in Kosovo Freeze
by Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes
Boise, Idaho, USA
January 2007

Beloved in Christ our Lord,

May the peace of God that passeth understanding be with you always!

Once again I must appeal to you on behalf of the Decani Monastery Relief Fund USA and for the sake of our struggling brothers and sisters in Kosovo/Metohija.

The children of the region are freezing when they are at school. Indeed, the children are now cold all the time, since only some of the classrooms even have wood stoves. There is no high tech central heating system for them as we are accustomed to having in the schools our American children attend.

Back in late January and early February of last year (2006), I visited the region in my role as president of the Decani Fund. Some of the schools I visited were in unheated buildings! In one school I visited with Bishop Teodosije, we met together with the teachers in one of the classrooms. During that meeting, the room was intensely cold; we all felt we were freezing!

Elsewhere, in a classroom that was heated, the only source was a wood stove. When the children went outside for recess, they were each asked to bring in a log to add to the stove. When the supply of firewood was exhausted, that classroom too would go unheated. The schools are allotted some firewood by the Kosovo Coordination Center (run by the Republic of Serbia). When this is used up, the children must return to attending to their studies in icy cold classrooms.

This situation is so common that these children have grown accustomed to being cold. One must wonder, though, what effect such conditions have on their ability to learn and on their teachersí ability to teach.

We cannot even imagine such conditions in our own childrenís schools!

But the situation for Kosovoís Serbian children is even worse than a lack of heat in the schools they attend. Some of these schools do not have electricity either. The children must arrive late and leave early-- they can have classes only during the daylight hours.

When the Decani Monastery fathers learned that there wonít be enough firewood available to supply the regionís schools for the entire winter, theyíve rushed to assist the schools by procuring additional supplies of wood through the Decani Monastery Relief Fund. Because of past yearsí experience with this ongoing situation, they now keep in contact with these schools, anticipating that they will have to assist them when they run out of firewood or encounter other problems.

At this hour, beloved in Christ our Lord, let us act together to keep the children warm in their classrooms. With Christian love, let us assist them to have both heat and electric lighting in their schools so that the time they spend there will be productive and conducive to real learning.

The schools, like many of the families in the area, cannot afford sufficient firewood or electric power. Children return to unheated homes from unheated schools, to homes where the only illumination comes from candles or lanterns. Life in Kosovo/Metohija has regressed to a primitive level for many of the remaining Serbian citizens. Even worse conditions would ensue if it were not for the armed guards and tank patrols that surround the schools and give some measure of safety to the children at least while they are there.

Please remember, my brothers and sisters in Christ, that for Christians, charitable works are not an option, they are a mandate. We live to be servants of our Lord and we serve Him by serving each other and all others. Christ Himself commands us to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to take care of the poor and needy among us. In Christ we are one body, one family. As one family, all the children are our children, all the people are our brothers and sisters.

The Decani Monastery Relief Fund exists to carry out that mandate in Kosovo/Metohija. Let us also rise to the call and help them provide assistance to alleviate the bitter cold and darkness these young children must face in their schools and in their homes. Let us warm them, our children, with both our charity and with our ceaseless prayers.

Please send your donation, designated to be used to provide Firewood for Schools in Kosovo to:

Decani Monastery Relief Fund USA
C/O Very Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes
2618 West Bannock Street
Boise, Idaho 83702

Telephone: 208-345-6147

Your tax deductible donation will be wired immediately from the Fundís account in Boise, Idaho to the Decani Monastery Relief Fundís account in Belgrade, Serbia where the good fathers can draw on it to purchase additional firewood and pay utility bills for the schools in their district as needed throughout this winter. May God abundantly bless you for your Christian stewardship and for your human kindness!

Peace to your soul!

+Very Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes
President of the Decani Monastery Relief Fund USA
January 2007

Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth Peace, Good Will Toward Men!