Behind small doors at 42 Bruno Bušić Street, in the neighbourhood of Središće in Zagreb, there is a seemingly ordinary shop with usual items: women's and men's shirts, trousers, lots of children's clothes and stuffed toys, shoes, shampoos, shower gels, detergents. But, there is a significant difference; all items are free, and customers come out with smiles as if they were just been to the best shopping centre in the world. It is a noble idea – a shop for refugees who reside in Croatia, reports Večernji List on 13 August 2017.
“The shop has been opened so to people who are far away from their homes, separated from their families and with a lack of income, can come here, choose what they like, and leave. The goal is to become part of an integration centre so that local population can come here, donate items if they want to, and, more importantly, talk with refugees, because it means a lot to them,” said Sara Benceković from the Are You Syrious NGO, which was founded two years ago, during the refugee crisis.
The association equipped the shop thanks to financial grants, mostly from abroad, which they received by applying to various tenders and calls for submissions. Clothes and hygiene products are donated by citizens.
“The shop is open three days a week. Now, when it is so hot, there are about 30 refugees a day, but usually, we have about 50 to 80 customers. These are mostly people from Syria and Iraq who live in the Porin accommodation centre. They most often ask for shampoos and laundry detergents,” explained Sara.
Every donation is welcome, she added, and those who want to help can do so by coming to the shop on Mondays and Fridays from noon to 6 pm, and on Wednesdays from 9 am to 3 pm. In front of the storeroom with clothes and other items, there is a sitting room and several chairs where those who come can hang out. The shop also offers a free internet connection so refugees can use Skype to speak with their families.
Among volunteers working in the shop are refugees themselves, who help their fellow countrymen to choose clothes. They also receive donations from people. Among them is 13-year-old Rand Asfour, who was deported to Croatia from Germany six months ago.
“I am here with my brother, mom, dad, and sister, while one brother is in Germany, and there is also one in Syria. I like to volunteer at the store because I feel useful. People are good, and they know how to talk nicely. Here I go to school and learn the local language, and I have found several friends,” said Rand in fluent Croatian.
32-year-old Ferdi Abdullah who arrived from Kosovo also likes working in the store. “This is a beautiful thing. When I came to Croatia, I was on the verge of falling into depression. In this shop, I finally feel like a human being,” explained Ferdi.
Translated from Večernji List.