Serbian prince, princess attend church, seek help in Northwest Indiana
A royal gesture
HOBART, MERRILLVILLE: Serbian prince, princess attend church, seek help in
BY CHRISTINE BRYANT
This story ran on nwitimes.com on Monday, October 2, 2006 12:42 AM CDT
HOBART | It's an image most Americans have neither seen nor imagined:
hospitals where one-third of the equipment is broken, missing ceiling tiles
expose the roof and plastic bags with wires are used as colostomy bags.
It may seem like a different world, but for many Northwest Indiana
residents it hits close to home.
For Crown Princess Katherine of Serbia and Yugoslavia, it is home.
"I feel like I am a mother of my country," she said. "I feel like I have to
be their voice."
The princess and Crown Prince Alexander II of Serbia and Yugoslavia were in
the region Sunday to speak about the Lifeline Humanitarian Organization, a
foundation she set up to help those in need regardless of religion or
The royal couple attended services at St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church in
Merrillville and later joined more than 600 guests at a Serbian Sisters
humanitarian luncheon in Hobart, where the princess was the keynote speaker.
"For the foundation to continue, there has to be hope that the outside
world cares about the people of Serbia," she said.
Speaking in a soft, yet unmistakably strong voice, the princess talked
about the deep social and economic crisis her country is in as a result of
the Yugoslavian conflicts during the 1990s.
With 650,000 refugees and an unemployment rate of 40 percent, many citizens
and children struggle for adequate education, living conditions and health
"These children in refugee camps have not known any other life other than
the life they've lived in a refugee camp," she said.
Fighting back tears, the princess told stories of the children who were
never given a chance.
Mothers who give birth prematurely will travel from hospital to hospital in
a car -- because of the lack of ambulances -- looking for incubators that
will help their babies survive.
But there are not enough incubators, and many of the babies will die. In
fact, the princess said, more babies die in Serbia than anywhere else in
"I don't think it's God's will for those babies to die because they were
born in Serbia," she said.
Hospitals also lack diagnostic equipment needed for doctors to treat
patients in the early stages of disease.
To help create awareness and raise funds for the war-torn country, in 1993,
Princess Katherine began the organization, Lifeline, to assist Serbia
during its period of transition. Based in Belgrade, Serbia and Yugoslavia,
Lifeline has offices worldwide, including one in Chicago.
The most vulnerable groups of society -- the children, elderly, the ill,
refugees and the internally displaced people from Kosovo -- are assisted
through the foundation.
About 90 percent of medical facilities still are in need of vital
But the organization is getting some help from Northwest Indiana residents.
Tasha Sever, 16, of Portage, wrote and visited dozens of Sunday schools
throughout the region asking for donations and presented a check for $8,752
to the princess Sunday.
"I am so emotional about (the gift)," Princess Katherine said. "I have so
much faith in our youth."
It also was announced the Culver Military Academy, where the prince once
attended school, will award a scholarship to the academy to one boy and one
girl from Serbia.
The prince said he hopes Sunday's visit will continue to build a
relationship between Serbia and the United States. On Sept. 18, the state
of Illinois and Serbia entered into a sister state agreement that will
translate into better economic and social cooperation, he said.
For more information on the Lifeline Humanitarian Organization, visit