JRS – Isusovačka služba za izbjeglice

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A visit to the ZOO. The story of a volunteer.

It was 9 AM. Ana, Mirna, Iva and I found met in Porin in order to print some interesting questionnaires for children, looked up by Ana, so as to make their visit educational and contentious,
while Mihael was keeping company to the children in front of Porin. Even though the deal with the children was to meet at 10, some of them were already waiting anxiously in front of Porin. They looked as though they were born ready. “When are we leaving?” was the most often most important question that morning, with impatience as a major feature. Since Vakula announced rainy weather in the afternoon, it was to their liking that our intention was to leave as early as possible.
 

An atmosphere of great excitement was slowly being created. We started with counting children and their parent’s letters of agreement to the visit. Obtaining the letter was important, kids had turned it into a mission in the week before the visit to the ZOO, just ask Iva Raguž. “Where’s my letter?” Belal asked every time he saw us. The smart kid knew that without “the letter”, read parental consent, he could not go anywhere.
 

Shortly before 10 we got all together, except the little star Mehdi who was missing. Soon enough Amir Ali came running, trying to help. We agreed that he would go looking for his friend, but before that he had to be convinced that we would not go without him. As if we would ever do that. It was nice to see how important these things are to them, and it is on such occasions that the volunteer remembers that he’s really doing something nice for those children. Before leaving for the ZOO we established some ground rules, lined up in pairs and were ready to go. Somewhere in Zapruđe we were joined by our volunteer Ivona, because what was missing was the cherry on the top.
 

The kids invaded the tram and I can say they were the leading stars in it. There were also sweet grannies who were asking kindly about children’s day, with gentle remarks, for example, how nice or good the kids are. There were also moments of pride for us when Art asked an older lady if she would take his seat or when Ali showed us the way through the ZOO, and young Alireza, Muhammad and Selin made it super easy to keep an eye on them, being aware they were the youngest ones.
 

When we came to the ZOO the tickets were already waiting for us, as agreed. Many thanks to the ZOO! The main ZOO stars were monkeys and lions, bears and all kinds of snakes! The thicker and uglier, the better for the kids! Except for the girls who were a minority in our group, so they had to wait for the boys to have a good look at the ugly and dangerous creatures.
 

At the end, we were exhausted with the heat, the responsibility, the whole visit and sightseeing, so we went to Maksimir Park, where children were playing and hanging out while we set out to provide a nice snack. Pizzas and cakes. Is there anything better?
It was a wonderful day which will, I believe, stay with all of us as a beautiful memory!
 

Iva Ivanković, JRS volunteer