From Facebook status to grand charity ball: How Ženski solidarni front responded to the pandemic crisis
Informal group Ženski solidarni front formed spontaneously when a group of motivated women felt the need and obligation to respond to the effects of the pandemic their local community in Vranje suffered. They gathered around the idea to organize a grand charity ball and bazaar in order to raise money for children whose parents had died of COVID-19.
The initiative gathered a number of successful women from Vranje and was supported by the Center for Media Transparency and Social Responsibility (CMTDO). As a result, in just two weeks and with the support of the community, by 20 August, a total of RSD 600,000 was raised (5.000 EUR) and 26 direct donations were provided to help the children who had lost one or both parents since the beginning of the pandemic.
In addition to this large initiative in August, the charitable women of Vranje helped their community throughout the pandemic year of 2020 by raising around RSD 3 million (25.500 EUR) for the support to the healthcare system, with the assistance of good and responsible fellow citizens.
Milica Anđelković Jovanović, who wanted to help the children of Vranje and activate her community, made only one Facebook status and launched a chain of support engaging hundreds of women who wanted to contribute to the humanitarian initiative. Today, this informal group has more than 700 members, including several men who have joined recently, since the fact that membership was exclusive to women was criticized by men in the beginning, as Milica points out.
In the interview, Milica talks about the power of community in the circumstances which caught us all completely unprepared. She told us about their motives to get together and help children and families, about obstacles they had to face, and about how one Charity Ball in August 2021 united the citizens of Vranje in common cause.