To cross again the Serbian Macedonian border was a bit of a challenge for me as I’ve been in troubles all the last passages I made through … Being asked to pay for nothing by the Serbs, being checked for hours because of drugs dealing presumption, human trafficking etc … Being stolen gears and goods by the Macedonian border police … Well … Honestly I wasn’t comfortable crossing the tabanovce-presevo check point again …
But surprisingly it went quite well and my way to Belgrade has been pretty much alright.
After spending the night driving through the country and a quick sleep at one close petrol station parking area, I finally arrived to the old Yugoslavian capital.

Finding the miksaliste camp has been easier than I expected and for the first time, I reach the place at my first attempt.
Then after a quick introduction to the coordination crew, I started the work straight away.

Miksaliste is an ancient gig venue and place that was used for summer festival in the Belgrade waterfront district where most of the cultural life of the city was based.
Nowadays the government is pushing for the art spaces and club to close to rebuild the waterfront in a total different way, with fancy hostels, big ugly buildings etc …
The camp is placed straight in the middle of this area on a square space that could received around a thousand people crowd.
The concerts stages has been removed and used as storage shelves, the containers that were supposed to hosted artists were now used as showers, toilets etc …
Well, the Serbs, seeing the situation that happened in the last summer had handle the crisis with lot of efficiency.

For the last months I got used to it, preparing tea, coffee, sorting clothes, serving food etc … As I told to the volunteers there “only the place and the people change, the work is still the same” …

Telling this made me realise how much I did for the last 7 months, and I was somehow now ready to deal with any kind of situation.
Then, even though the work was still difficult, even if it was still upsetting and painful to see these people struggling to reach a vet life, I was confident enough to handle the whole.
And I would say that volunteering in miksaliste camp has been one of the easiest part of the journey.

It’s maybe coming from the people surrounding me, a bunch of cool Serbian guys and international fellow helpers who’re as much involved as I was.
We’re working all together everyday and were spending most of our evening sipping and talking at the mikser house café or at the KC grad club.
Somehow, I felt like we’re all on the same tune, all pissed off by the horrible news of the Balkans route end, all trying to figure out what would be the best way to help then … All in …

Well, I think that the city has been playing a big part as there was always something to do, always somebody to meet, always something happening and I even found the time to enjoy myself doing something not related to the crisis (realising that it’s been ages since I last did something that wasn’t).

I made good friends, I worked hard and I found true people, good people that shared their experiences and passion with me through our common goal.

exile (407 of 500)

And even although the route was “officially closed” nothing has truly changed and we could see people arriving from Afghanistan, Iraq, north Africa etc …
I even discovered that the city was the reaching point of lot of different other refugees and asylum seekers such as Bosnian, kosovars,Albanian …( The populations that still suffer from the fall of Yugoslavia and the 1999 Balkan war), but also Ukrainian, Russian, Iranian and other people who’re flying their country government for whatever reason, more often because of the lack of human rights, religious and social conflicts…

Every day, at least 30-40 newcomers weren’t crashing first, at Afghani park, the first space in front of the bus and train station and then, at miksaliste.
Every evening you could see at least 30 people sleeping outside in the park or in the streets and was glad the weather was getting warmer by the time, even if it was still cold …

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