Friday, April 17, 2009

Look inside the flour bag

During my two and a half years in Belgrade, I had a status of refugee there. One of the benefits of having that frowned upon status, was that I had received some humanitarian aid from red cross, mainly food and toiletry items. Almost 100% of those I had sent to my family in Sarajevo.

I must have sent close to 50 packages during that time. They received probably less than 10 complete boxes. The first food convoy from Belgrade was in November of 1992, organized by "Politika", a large news paper agency. I had been anticipating this opportunity, and had gathered all sort of delicious food and even clothing for my teenage brother who had been outgrowing his shoes every few months. Some of the items I remember that were in those two boxes were potatoes, cabbage, onions, oils, canned goods, pasta, sauces, chocolates, jacket, jeans and tennis shoes. My family never got those packages. The package delivery didn't go through a secure post office delivery, but the agencies organizing them had to go through several check points before reaching their destination. At each of those, the army or whoever was patrolling them would take whatever they wanted from the convoy. Even when the boxes arrived at the storage place, those working there would often first take something for themselves before letting the recipients know they have the package waiting for pick up.

Over time, I got more wise about packaging. First, I would send few smaller boxes, instead of one large one. There was a bigger chance they would get at least one box if I send more than one, even if it's smaller. Then through conversations with other people sending packages to their family members, and through few messages I was able to get from my family, I learned to hide the 'delicatessen" items. I would put chocolate, coffee, or jams inside the large bags of flour. Some packages appeared from the top as if they only have flour, rice and pasta in them, and were not of interest to those who did not dig deeper. My brother would later tell me how exciting those moments had been when he'd bury his hands into those flour bags to discover a hidden treasure.


  1. I love these stories! Please keep them coming!

  2. Wow, Zvezdena, I am so happy to see that you've started documenting your life back then. I am also so amazed and disheartened to know exactly what you went through. It is beautiful that you have come out above all of that and are such a wonderful person. I can't wait to read more.

    Oh, don't forget to tell the story about the gift wrapped packages from America where sometimes you received a clove of garlic or one shoe!

  3. Sharon, Lauren, welcome to the site. Thank you for taking the time to read these stories! And to post comments! I am humbled that my little blog has some visitors. :) I wanted to get all the basics out, and have started on several minor "episodes", so they Are coming....I just need to get back into the writing mood.