(2) Seemingly Small Efforts can Change Another Person’s World

Among many lessons at Brandeis, one of the most essential was learning that a person’s passion toward a cause can make an immense difference. Before going to Brandeis, I used to think that an individual’s effort is not that crucial in a world where there are so many influential people with lots of power, wealth and privileges. However, I have met lots of people at Brandeis from different walks of life and witnessed their motivation and consequential success, and I can see that highly motivated individuals are able to make a future for themselves and also to help others. 

This has made me believe that I can achieve my goals of helping others as long as I believe in myself and put in the effort. I had already volunteered and served my community in my high school years, but with this motivation, I was able to pursue managing roles  where I could organize projects. I became a Lead Rescuer in the organization Rescuing Leftover Cuisine and was able to serve the homeless community in New York City. I realized how my volunteer work can put a smile on people’s faces. I also realized that small acts of service can make a huge impact. 

This is 13-year-old Vuk, who has cerebral palsy.  People’s donations through Pokreni Zivot were able to provide him with a neurological wheelchair!

I decided that working for a humanitarian organization like Pokreni Zivot—which fights healthcare injustices and poverty—would be a perfect way to make an impact.  My approach to my internship was with confidence and passion toward expanding humanitarian aid and reaching out to more possible partnerships in the hopes of them sponsoring humanitarian projects. One of the ways I utilized this skill was by directly reaching out to major chain store CEOs through LinkedIn. I did this in order to create partnerships with their company, which would result in donation boxes placements, sponsored humanitarian project activities, and many other beneficial humanitarian causes that could raise more funds for the poverty ridden communities.

Fortunately, most of the people that I reached out to responded positively and were interested in collaborating with our foundation. It turns out that some companies did not have humanitarian organizations directly reach out to them and weren’t aware of the ways that they could contribute. They indicated interest in collaborating with our causes and finding ways to organize fundraising.

If I didn’t have this confidence and strive, I would have never reached out to company executives, as I would have believed that they would never respond to me. The companies would also not have collaborated with a humanitarian organization, as they would not be aware of ways that they can help. Through this, I learned that one person’s effort can go a long way and create connections, partnerships and new ideas. 

I believe that seeing Brandeis students utilize their resources such as LinkedIn and alumni connections has motivated me to do the same. My thoughts have been shaped to believe that I can use my available resources to establish partnerships and lead to greater impact on impoverished families.

(1) For Every Child to Have the Childhood That They Deserve

My mission in life is to help as many people as possible and have a positive impact on my community. I have been working with the humanitarian organization Pokreni Zivot, which organizes humanitarian projects for Serbian families that are in extreme need of proper housing and resources. The organization also works to provide financial assistance to young kids in Serbia with serious health issues to go abroad and receive medical attention. I chose this field for my internship because my own family was in unfair situations due to poverty, wars, and occupations. These situations cause great suffering among the most disadvantaged communities, which is why I believe it is important for organizations such as Pokreni Zivot to exist.

Before and after images of the sixth successfully renovated home by the humanitarian foundation Pokreni Zivot.

This humanitarian foundation is run by youth who put an emphasis on helping the most vulnerable people within our society, including impoverished families, single parent homes, sick children and the disabled. The mission statement is “for every child to have the childhood that they deserve,” and the accumulated donations are utilized to help renovate homes by installing basic necessities such as beds, electricity, and proper infrastructure. The foundation believes that these home improvements allow for disadvantaged families to reach their full potential by being able to focus on their educations and careers.

This organization directly confronts the social injustice of unfair worldwide healthcare inequity and poverty.  It works to help people that are affected by limited healthcare resources and people that are in urgent need of basic necessities. Throughout this summer, I am responsible for organizing fundraising events, managing marketing, implementing donation boxes in various locations to raise money, talking with families, and in-person volunteering, among other tasks.

My future career goals are to be involved in charities that aim to improve world health and equity. This internship experience will further inform me of inequities in our societies and how we can work to dismantle them. Therefore, I aim to come out of this internship with more knowledge on how to help marginalized communities effectively. I hope to become an effective advocate for housing and food resource reform in impoverished communities.

One particular achievement that I am proud of is reaching out to shopping center executives and getting a positive response for creating a donation bank, which will allow for more donations to be raised in a highly visited location. A general achievement of the organization was opening a humanitarian store (where all profit goes to helping people) and renovating a sixth home for an impoverished family.

Humanitarian store in Leskovac, Serbia, where profit directly goes to medical treatment of children.

Progress would be to encourage more privileged people to help give back to their own disadvantaged communities. Another form of progress would be for governments to take more action into helping these marginalized people around the world and to be involved in redistributing resources. I am proud to witness how a youth-run organization such as Pokreni Zivot can improve the lives of  many through the donations and help of regular citizens.