The Story about Best Friends from our School of Life in the village of Ljukovo
Not only do our donators become a part of our NDF family, as we like to call it, but also, through their selfless giving, they make an unbreakable bond with children whose lives are changed by these donations. Thanks to them, children get an opportunity to develop their talents and to grow in a stimulating and safe environment together with their peers.
The nature of our mission is such that the results of our work cannot be visible on the spot. Investing in early development includes a solid foundation based on which the child gradually grows into a person who uses their full potential. A few years from now, once our society is made up of adults determined to build a better future for all of us, that’s when we will see the fruits of our labor.
One of the many who have recognized this and have joined us on the path towards our goal to provide every child with a place in kindergarten is Dragana Radišić. For seven years already, Dragana has been living and working in Amsterdam as an internal auditor at Asics. Besides her job, her big passion is humanitarian work and providing support in securing better living conditions for children worldwide. It was this passion that inspired her to become a part of the project team of the Rotary Club – an international organization of professionals intertwined across the globe, aiming to provide humanitarian support, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and to solve global issues such as poverty and poor education.
„I have been doing humanitarian work for 15 years now. I have always sought some new projects and ways to help all children – in Bali, Thailand, and Africa. But, of course, I come from Serbia, and that’s where my heart belongs, thus making it even more important for me to help our children. Since I no longer live in Serbia, I am not very familiar with their needs. Nevertheless, I remember the days I spent in kindergarten, elementary school, later high school, and poor conditions under which we were taking classes. Travelling around the world, I familiarized myself with resources that are at our disposal, especially in the Netherlands. More often than not, unfortunately, those resources are not directed in the right way. Hence my idea to bring together people who have the same or similar goal as me and who want to support children and education, but do not know where to direct their funds. It has been two and a half years since I knocked on the door of the Novak Djokovic Foundation with a proposal to help them reach some of their goals. What immediately caught my attention was the School of Life project, because I really believe everything starts with education“, says Dragana.
Last year, on Dragana’s initiative, Rotary club Amsterdam chose our project to open a new School of Life in Ljukovo as one of their annual humanitarian goals. Thanks to the motivation of all their members, the club raised as much as EUR 22,000. With this support, our team opened the 13th School of Life in the village of Ljukovo near Inđija. This included the adaptation of a part of an elementary school that used to be the home of a teacher from Ljukovo, then its outfitting with all the necessary furniture, didactic realia and supplies, as well as the construction of a playground so that children would be able to enjoy in their day-to-day stay. Thereby about 60 additional preschool places in this area were provided for children aged 3-6.
Wanting to show Dragana how much her effort, time and passion have changed the lives of children in Ljukovo, we took her on a tour of the new School Life. She was welcomed by playful children who were thankful that a new friend had come to visit them. The little ones wanted to show her every corner of their kingdom – from toys, puzzles, drawings to cones and chestnuts they had been collecting diligently during those days.
„I just can’t believe another dream came true. Not only the dream of these children, but mine as well. When I saw these properly designed and arranged premises, my first reaction were definitely tears. It was such a deep emotion that I cannot put down into words. I am very grateful to all people who have helped make this project a reality, so now the children can enjoy both the playground and the School. To learn from each other, to laugh and be inquisitive. When I see all this, my heart is full! “, said Dragana.
We are very grateful that a significant part of our donors and partners are people from the diaspora like Dragana. Reminiscing about their childhood, they recognize how important it is to improve early education and invest in small places in Serbia where they come from. In order to justify the trust of our donors, it is very important for us to regularly show them the current state of the quality of early education in Serbia, how their contribution can change that and how projects they invest in are progressing. Everyone’s contribution, regardless of size, helps us on the way to our goal. Our NDF family consists not only of those who invest money in our projects but also of all those who support us by sharing their ideas, initiatives, skills, knowledge, or time while helping us raise the awareness of the importance of high-quality early education.
“I believe that a large number of our people from the diaspora want to donate, but that the biggest problem is that they do not know where and whom to turn to. I think that if each one of us gave a little, it would be enough for everyone. When I started doing humanitarian work, I didn’t want to talk about it much. I thought I was doing it just for myself. But then I turned over another page. I realized that I should share it with my friends and acquaintances, because together we can do even more. That is why I can’t wait to share pictures and recordings of today’s visit to Ljukovo, because this is just the beginning and inspiration for further joint projects. “
We left Ljukovo with faith in a better future for all of us. Although Dragana knew that her initiative would help build a kindergarten that would b3 meaningful to the entire local community, she was not aware that it also see her make 60 little best friends who will grow into brave people and go on to change the world. Just because she, like the rest of our NDF family, believed in their dreams.