“We first found our feet in Serbia, where we wanted to put our specific, practical skills to use.”
Watershed first found its feet in Serbia, as a team of friends, who came together at the Choose Love volunteer hub in Thessaloniki. Although connected by a shared commitment to the same cause, we aspired to put our specific, practical skills and experiences to use- somewhere that it was really needed. In the early months of 2017, over 1,200 men and boys were living in an unofficial squat next to Belgrade train station, called “the Barracks.”
When we first arrived, there were no WASH facilities whatsoever. So, we made some fast and simple interventions to improve access to running water, such as installing hand washing sinks, building a ritual washing area next to a mosque and constructing a gravity fed shower area within an old outbuilding. Without any toilet facilities, we were well aware of people having no choice but to openly defecate, therefore we contracted 15 chemical WCs, conducted a thorough deep clean of the area and removed 250 tonnes of rubbish and waste, in order to prioritise a more hygienic environment.
At the time, there was a strong network of grassroots organisations present, therefore we collaborated in many different ways, always willing to share our practical skills or build resources for other teams carrying out vital services. In this manner we constructed: a WASH trailer, clinic spaces, two kitchens and a workshop. We adapted warehouse spaces and built storage units. In order to promote recreational activities among the refugee population, we also were involved with building and creating equipment such as cricket nets, ping pong tables and many 100s of racquets used for Street Racquet events, in collaboration with other actors.
Working in the Barracks with small NGOs, grassroots initiatives and independent volunteers, gave us the opportunity to provide impactful solutions to support the most basic, but most pressing, needs of people on the move.
2017, February – May
Approx. 1,200 men and boys living in an unofficial squat and the surrounding areas.
Several grassroots organisations and initiatives, Refugee Aid Serbia (RAS)
Installation of several handwashing sinks and a ritual wash area
Contraction of 15 chemical WCs
Removal of 250 tonnes of waste
Support of ongoing construction work, i.e. for clinic spaces, kitchens and recreational areas