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Archive file

VIP 27

                   VIP No.27,July 12,1996
                    Volunteer Information

                  Volunteer Project Pakrac
       E-mail:  Volunteers_Pakrac@zamir-pk.ztn.apc.org

Situation in Town


Or so at least says the Croatian government which recently
declared that reconstruction is completed for all of Western
Slavonia.  I heard the news before the last VIP but didn't
believe it.  But it is true.  This comes as a huge relief to
the project and we are thinking about packing it in since
everything is apparently back to normal.  All the remaining
burnt out houses, shell holes, and mined fields must be an
illusion or something.  Not to mention that the social and
repatriation issues in town are also obviously of simply
trifling concern.  Then again, maybe we will hang around
just to see how "reconstructed" life in Pakrac turns out.

Big changes in the UNOV office.  All of their old programs
were immediately terminated or are being phased out - the
volunteers were cut off as of the beginning of this month.
Amazing how quickly the UN can move when it is taking money
away.  UNOV is now working with UNHCR in their program to
repatriate Serbs either to the area from Eastern Slavonia or
within Western Slavonia.  Annli, the new UNOV office
manager, has, however, been very supportive the past couple
of weeks through the changes.

Returnees remain the major local issue of the present and
the future.  While UNHCR waits to demine villages for large
scale repatriations from Eastern Slavonia, it is working to
make houses habitable for repatriations within Western
Slavonia and for people who have relatives in Eastern
Slavonia.  With the imminent reintegration of Eastern
Slavonia into Croatia, many people there may be forced to
return to their homes around here or in the Krajina.  The
small UNHCR program has already created slight tension and
large scale returns could lead to significant problems.

Pakracko Ljeto '96 (Pakrac Summer '96) posters hang in all
of the most popular or respectable drinking establishments.
The poster has a butterfly against a black background. The
first concert was postponed or canceled last night.

All of the phone numbers in town changed.  The government
contracted revamping the phone system out to a Swiss
company.  All of the numbers that began with 83 now begin
with 411.  84 numbers now begin with 412.  The phones don't
work any better yet.

And forget about all that heat stuff I wrote about last
issue.  It has rained on and off for three weeks.  And
usually it is a cool autumnal rain rather than the warm
soothing rain of an idyllic summer out in the Croatian
countryside.  Oh yeah, sometimes we hear really loud
thunder. What kind of summer is this?

And now for what seems to be the mandatory apology.  I wrote
last month that Tanya was coming to work for the American
Democracy Foundation (maybe).  Well, I have since heard she
is not.  There is someone coming from the American Democracy
Foundation.  And Tanya is coming.  But Tanya is not coming
with the American Democracy Foundation.   I could go on
about the quality of my UN sources, the relative importance
(or lack thereof) of VIP, the absolute perfect situation
last issue for a mild Fourth of July jab at America not any
person in particular, etc. but won't.

Volunteer Life

THREE YEARS.  The project celebrated its third birthday on
July 6th with a party that will not soon if ever be
forgotten (though some people could not remember it on July
7th).  The turnout was low due to mechanical problems in
Gorni Vacuf and conflicts with the Fifth Anniversary of ARK
(Anti-War Campaign) in Zagreb that weekend.  Still, all in
all it was a good time.  And, parties aside, the project and
all associated with it should be proud that it reached its
third birthday.  A true achievement for a project like this
in any situation much less in Pakrac with all its assorted
craziness and frustration.  Now lets hope that there is
another party in three years to celebrate the 6th

The project may lose our office this month.  The secondary
school is turning the building back into dormitories for the
upcoming fall and wants us to leave.  Maybe in September,
maybe next week.  And just after Anissa spent three days
painting the walls for the first time in years.  Welcome to

LTVs seem to be going through a particularly rough time
right now.  Without getting into specifics, I think most of
us have hit some kind of existential, life, relationship
crisis over the past couple of months.  Must be the way the
stars are aligned or maybe our karma has turned bad or maybe
a lot of us have lived in Pakrac a long time.

Comings and Goings - Anissa (USA), who has been around for a
couple of months now, is taking over office duties and
becoming a LTV.  Marko (Croatia) also arrived to become our
new small repairs LTV.  Bocian left for two and a months of
vacation.  Nathan was named to the coordination team (it now
consists of Martina, Stefan, Nathan, and Burkie if he ever
returns.)  Stefan signed a contract with UNHCR and is now
working half time with BJ on the reconstruction project and
half time with the project.

Volunteer Activities


Workcamp #42 arrived as the last of the old style Pakrac
workcamps.  We have nine volunteers from America (3),
England, Northern Ireland (2), Belgium (2), and Canada.  The
STVs have worked some with BJ and Stefan on the UNHCR
projects.  The rest of the work has been fairly hard to
organize due to the lack of a small repairs program at the
moment, but there is always enough (which is kind of
surprising considering that reconstruction is over in
Western Slavonia).  The camp is going extremely well and a
good time is being had by all (at least it seems like it
though you never can tell with some people I guess).  Camp
#43 will not start until September and will consist only of
volunteers who may potentially stay as long term volunteers.

Photo Project

Edin, during his visit for the party, reorganized the photo
project materials to make them ready for Julie's imminent
arrival.  She might have quite a job ahead of her.  A key in
Gorni Vacuf, the school locked, no groups for over a month,

E-mail Project

Bocian is right now in Budapest for a conference sponsored
by the Soros Foundation and being pampered up there in a way
we can't even imagine anymore.  Then he is away for two and
a half months of vacation before his lessons in the
secondary school plus the project's expansion into other
schools begins.  While Bocian is gone, a local student named
Silvano is taking care of the e-mail system.  One wonders if
he knew what he was getting into and how much we depend and
care about our e-mail.

Puppet Theater

There are no groups at the moment, but Piekna, re-energized
by a vacation, decided to stay through the summer and into
the fall.  The lack of UNOV funding is also the most
pressing concern for this sub-project.  Piekna is currently
looking for space for the puppet theater around town.

Small Repairs

Marko arrived to take over small repairs the week that all
of the materials funding was cut off by UNOV.  Whoops.  So
he has spent the past couple of weeks assisting the co-
leaders in organizing work for the workcamp.  The project
will tackle the problem of finding new funding, materials,
and tools after the workcamp ends.


Marcel and Patrick's Adventure with the Love Van.  Quite a
title for their recent visit.  They brought parts for one of
the dormant vans sitting in the STV yard and attempted to
get it working.  I'm not sure how successful they were in
the end, but we aren't driving the van around so obviously
something is still wrong.  Gee, I wonder why.  That van has
only been sitting there for over a year.

We are also driving our regular van again as we have sorted
out some insurance/liability problems.

Community Visits

Zdenka continues to keep up with the visits.  Her only
problem is that people expect her to visit more than is
possible.  Last week, she took Nathan (for translating) and
two STVs on a couple of visits that went extremely well.

Kako Si?

Kako Si is starting to come along.  We received news that
the Dutch embassy will fund the paper to some extent.  We
find out how much this Tuesday.  The articles are all
assigned and a few are actually written.  The target date
for publication has been pushed back to mid to late August.
Co-leading taking all my time plus the Dutch money plus
general Pakrac slowness has all contributed to the new date.


Zlatko is currently searching for funding and instruments
for his music classes this fall in the schools.

English Class

Cecelia, the new English volunteer in Lipik, went with the
remaining summer kids to the sea for a week and a half of
sun and surf.  The beach crew returns at the end of this
week so these STVs will get their chance to play at the
orphanage next week.  Actual class will wait until the
school year begins.


Edin and friends arrived from Zagreb for the party and
stayed a few days.  Sharon from the Balkan Peace Team graced
us with her presence for the party as well.  Marcel and
Patrick visited from Switzerland.  Tor came through for a
couple days on his way to France.


To Peter for his recent help.  To Marcel and Patrick for
their aid and labor.

Social Life/Gossip

Gossip swirls strongly around Pakrac these days.  This STV
group, as the last old style camp, has brought enough
excitement to town to make up for the calmness of the past
few months.

In a rare moment of restraint, I am not going to tell you
about any of it.  I am co-leader and way too close to the
whole scene to even imply anything. (I am willing to tell
all over private e-mail - for a price of course)  Other LTVs
showed amazing enthusiasm to take over this space and
describe the past couple of weeks but that enthusiasm was
not backed up by a lasting determination.  The best idea,
however, was to just use a letter as a code for each person
and then start the wild and ultimately completely confusing

Let me just say that the Third Anniversary Party brought
back memories of my workcamp days.  Ahh, the parties we had
last November.  Why these youngsters can't hold a candle to
our carousing.  Why we had this guy who could just guzzle
rakija!  And then this one night . . .


We are volunteers.  We don't have regular paid jobs.  We
have a good project.  We work hard, well most of the time.
We always need money.

printer cartridges or refills for Hewlett Packard Desk Jet
510, scissors, folders, binders, dividers, envelopes, pens,
fax paper

Volunteer Houses
Food of any kind
Tape players/Radios for STVs and LTVs

Spades, shovels, hammers, wheel barrows, stuff for cleaning
bricks, masks, protection glasses, working gloves.

Photo Project
Photographic paper (not multigrade)
Cameras (not full automatic)
Lenses for Pentax
Black&White films

Puppet Theater
Sewing machines
Fabric materials
Wool and yarn
Ornamental items

Please do not send materials or equipment by mail as the
customs is ridiculously high.  Let us know and we can
probably find someone to bring it down here by car or train
or something.


A forest fire will rage through deep glens of a mountain,
crackling dry from summer heat, and coppices blaze up in
every quarter as wind whips the flame: so Achilles flashed
to right and left like a wild god, trampling the men he
killed, and black earth ran with blood. . . And Peleus' son
kept riding for his glory, staining his powerful arms with
mire and blood.

--The Illiad, Homer

Only part of us is sane:  only part of us loves pleasure and
the longer day of happiness, wants to live to our nineties
and die in peace, in a house we built, that shall shelter
those who come after us.  The other half of us is nearly
mad.  It prefers the disagreeable to the agreeable, loves
pain and its darker night despair, and wants to die in a
catastrophe that will set back life to its beginnings and
leave nothing of our house save its blackened foundations.

--Black Lamb and Grey Falcon
by Rebecca West

Don't worry be happy.

--Bobby McFerrin

The Pakrac Volunteers - July 12, 1996

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