DUGA Association, is a civil society organisation from the city of Sabac in Serbia working on directly supporting vulnerable groups in the community, who are either not in the social protection system and receive no assistance from the state. DUGA works with Roma community, persons with disabilities, sex workers, LGBT community, elderly, persons living with HIV/AIDS and others. “I have been an activist for 16 years and I have never felt this bad. Deciding daily who to help when all of them are hungry has been the most difficult experience of my life. Many who need our help, but there is so little available, “said Aleksandar Prica, the President of the Board of Directors of the Association DUGA from Sabac.
Immediately after the declaration of the state of emergency, DUGA focused on informing the most vulnerable in their community on measures to be taken to prevent infection with coronavirus as well as to support them with basic food and hygiene products. DUGA field teams, in collaboration with the Sabac Public Health Council, printed and distributed information material about the virus and its effects. 97 households were informed about self-isolation protocol and provided with necessary information and protection measures. “As a result of these measures, the number of family members visiting from abroad has faltered. Our human approach, the respect and care we have shown, the trust we have built during long years of our work with them, resulted in people not putting themselves and others at risk,” explains Prica.
It also became clear to DUGA that there was an immediate need for the supply of basic food, hygiene products and humanitarian assistance to the elderly and poor residents in their community. “We immediately started collecting funds and deliver basic food and hygiene products to the most vulnerable members of the community, receiving great help and support from the City of Sabac, the Humane Heart of Sabac, as well as the Drug Policy Network (DPENS)” said Aleksandar Prica. Up until now, DUGA has managed to deliver 178 food and hygiene product packages.
Despite all their efforts, DUGA activists admit that they are not able to support all individuals at risk. The self-isolation and social distancing create many barriers, limit the possibilities of earnings and income for the most vulnerable members of the society, thus threatening their existence. That is why it is important that DUGA and similar CSOs in Serbia who are working with the most marginalised and less privileged members of their community receive support to continue helping and providing basic information, food, hygiene and other products for them during the current coronavirus/Covid-19 emergency situation.
DUGA association is a civil society organisation that is conducting its activities in the city of Sabac, Serbia. It was founded in 2004 and is focused on providing education, security, economic empowerment, gender equality, health, social and other services to persons from the LGBT community, disadvantaged young people, elderly, persons in institutional care, sex workers, people with HIV / AIDS and others.