Zoran Ilić is an elderly man who recently embarked on a journey through Serbia in order to traverse his homeland on foot, after spending a lifetime as a hitchhiker. The reason you should know about him, is not only because of this unusual adventure, but because of his precious wisdom and inspiring view on philanthropy.
This video of Zoran has been circulating the Serbian web in the past week, and met with an outpouring of support and a collective desire to give this man a hug and listen to him talk. He is retired, living with his wife in Belgrade, and a former merchant traveller, who hitchhiked his way through most of Europe and North Africa. In his working days, he donated a lot of his earnings to different causes, but nowadays, he lives off his modest pension, so the only thing he can give and put to good use - is his real estate.
What do you mean, real estate? Well, this kind man realized that his home in Kruševac, Serbia, currently uninhabited, and his villa in Ulcinj, Montenegro, are great assets in helping people in need. Specifically, young people in financial need. Not knowing how to offer his home to the people who need it, he hired a local graffiti artist to do a piece on the facade of his house as a notice for passing students. The writing says: “If you are gifted, and a good student, you can live in this house for free. There’s room for six people”. Over the years, he had around a dozen people stay in his house for free, only paying for the electricity and water bills. 4 years ago, the 200sqm house was a home for two sisters from a nearby village, who had no way to pay for rent in Kruševac with only their mother providing for them both, high school students at the time.
The house in Ulcinj is a great place for high schoolers and university students to visit the Adriatic seaside, with the symbolic rent price of 1 euro per day, per person. During the summer season, he hosts as much as 60 people in the villa, not only students, but young parents with kids and people in retirement. Everything is provided in the villa: three bathrooms, 8 beds, a fridge, electric and gas stoves, and the visitors are only obliged to bring their own bedsheets.
Being a natural at giving his entire life, he is now relying on the kindness of strangers to provide him with a place to stay overnight, wherever he happens to be in Serbia on his journey. Zoran is also tech savvy, so you can keep up with his journey on Facebook, and offer him a bed in your place when he comes around. We leave you this bit of Zoran’s wisdom to take with you on your journey - when asked who is Zoran Ilić, he replied “Zoran Ilić is a man. It doesn’t matter if I am a Serb or an Eskimo, or a Roma person. I am a man. And a man is not one who takes, but one who gives.”
We are grateful to Marka Žvaka for their inspiring video about this kind man.