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Serbian prince, princess attend church, seek help in Northwest Indiana

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://nwitimes.com/articles/2006/10/02/news/top_news/e93075bcf72fbf04862571fb000ce130.txt A royal gesture HOBART, MERRILLVILLE: Serbian prince, princess
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 3, 2006
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      http://nwitimes.com/articles/2006/10/02/news/top_news/e93075bcf72fbf04862571fb000ce130.txt

      A royal gesture
      HOBART, MERRILLVILLE: Serbian prince, princess attend church, seek help in
      Northwest Indiana

      BY CHRISTINE BRYANT
      Times Correspondent

      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
      ethnic origin.

      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
      care.

      "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
      Europe.

      "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
      construction work.

      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
      www.lifelineaid.info.
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