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Diplomatic World_nummer 56.

want now to establish

want now to establish legally and in the field, is the day care. That means building a day care center: we have a house, which needs to be transformed into office and into day care center where helpless people who are suffering at home, can be brought to, for at least the long day. And as you might have understood: that idea, concept and realization of a day care is then the precursor for phase 2: the in-patient unit where you can receive 12 to 14 patients for a longer time. That is phase 2 on which we are working and which would require about 500.000 €, just to put it there. And once it is there we need to make sure that what we have put there will be sustainable. With my wife we firmly believe in this project, because it helps people who are desperate, it helps the family members who are desperate because they don’t know how to deal with this desperation, it responds to a need because there are very few palliative care units in the Serbian hospitals and if there are, they are not free of charge and very often the people cannot afford it. As I said, we are certainly not alone. There is the major force behind this, the idea behind the funds: ‘Hospices of Hope’ from the United Kingdom and I hope one day you can meet its Director Graham Perolls. We have generous help from Norway, which covers quite a lot of money for the functioning costs of day care, which is not evident because not many people, countries or organizations want to give money for running costs. We have obtained, thanks to the sound management of BELhospice’s CEO Vera Madzgalj a funding from the European Union, for the amount of nearly 200.000 €, to help us to build Phase 1. That really gives us a strength, a certainty that we will continue to be there. But we should never relax, never sit back, never say: ‘we are there’ or ‘the money is there’. No, it is a continuing effort. Hence the awareness-campaigns which I explained to you, the necessity of keeping up the efforts for public dissemination. There is the yearly marathon: I think every major capital has a marathon and Belgrade also has its marathon. In this marathon, thanks to the support of the mayor and other authorities, there are at least 100/150 volunteers running for BELhospice with a T-shirt of BELhospice, and by doing so they raise a lot of money. And this is something that I want to stress: the great importance of the volunteers. If BELhospice, with the staff they have, would need to do it alone, it would be impossible. They have a staff of in total between 10-15 people, with whom it is impossible to do the daily visits to all patients. They have around 160 trained volunteers and half of this group is actively operational and the others can be called upon. These volunteers are no doctors or nurses, but they go to the patient to help: they are trained to help with little daily tasks, to help in the household. If the patients ask: ‘Can we go out for some fresh air?’, the volunteers go 56 Leo D‘aes - Belgian Ambassador in Serbia and Barbara Dietrich in The Bistronomy © Dieter Paternoster, Living Tomorrow

Leo D‘aes - Belgian Ambassador in Serbia © Dieter Paternoster, Living Tomorrow out with them in a wheelchair. So they are very engaged, but keeping volunteers engaged takes also effort. So it is a permanent struggle, as I said, waged on a daily basis by a very engaged, small management team of BELhospice which I really admire and in this whole operation the Honorary Patrons Committee which I chair, plays just a modest contribution to help this effort of building a Hospice getting realized. But the main actors are BELhospice, ‘Hospices of Hope’, the main funders and private sponsors. We also have collection boxes, notably in the Delhaize mega-centers in Serbia, called Tempo. Collection boxes are also in a number of petrol stations, they are in all BENU pharmacies. So it is a great mobilization, but as I said, we cannot just sit back and say: ‘it is running’. It is a constant effort. Every year there is a charity ball by which around 100.000 € is collected — a truly great amount for BELhospice — but vital for its daily operations. It’s a popular event, always sold out, which is very heartening of course. What is very beautiful and moving is how this BELHospice idea came to Vilvoorde (thanks to my wife), how Living Tomorrow immediately picked it up, showed active interest, translating sympathy into concrete action, allowing me to tell this little story in the Bistronomy in Living Tomorrow. Living Tomorrow, an association with a lot of business contacts, is hosting the fantastic and unique works of art called HOOOP: wooden Pinocchio’s next to which we are sitting for this interview. Each of them is unique and translates really the beauty of engagement, I would say. I am very grateful and I want to take this opportunity to thank profoundly Director Patrick Aertsen and culinary master Marc Clément, and PR Chief Kaat Van Rentergem and her team, and Living Tomorrow Arts Curator Barbara Dietrich, for everything they did and want to do, like the intention of hosting a fundraising evening for BELhospice, and planning for a sustained cooperation for the benefit of people in need of care. I am truly grateful for such a magnificent support, built on trust and sympathy and a warm solidarity which touches me deeply. VILVOORDE Indringingsweg 1 - 1800 Vilvoorde-Koningslo - Tel: +32 2 263 01 31 - E-mail: info@thebistronomy.com 57