So Pokret Dosta! Mostar decided to organize a humanitarian action, placing volunteers in three of the major shopping centers in the city and asking people to buy a few food items for donation as they went about their own shopping. It was fascinating to see who gave-- often elderly, retired people with little money gave the most, whereas many wealthy people and religious people didn't give anything. But at least there was equal representation-- a woman wearing a big gold cross and a veiled Muslim woman both turned up their noses at what we were doing during my volunteer time.
All in all however, it was entirely heartwarming-- we collected probably about 2000 KM worth of donations, in a city in crisis, where many people don't have much money. Personally, I was also really moved by the Dosta! crew-- everyone is studying or working or has kids and other obligations-- and yet they all spent the whole day volunteering their time to do this. We had no idea how much work it would be-- the most tiring part is sorting and counting and dividing into packets all the different types of food after standing all day in a shopping center!
An sidenote-- one of the local politicians used this opportunity to try to get publicity for himself, and sadly someone in the media decided to play along. A candidate for mayor donated some food (he owns a company that sells dried meat-- and which hasn't paid its own employees in three months) and a local journalist waited out front for a long time and then as soon as he came, rushed over and took a photo of him giving the food-- very much as though she had been waiting for him all along! The Dosta! group which organized the whole event is not even mentioned in the article, only this politician. Even worse, this woman is a widow, her husband was a wonderful local poet who died recently, and just two weeks ago she had to close the bookstore that they used to run together. So likely she took a bribe to get this photo-- but she's a single mom, so maybe she was in desperate circumstances herself?
Of course, the final touch to this whole story--- *I* am in the photo!! see article below.