Misa warms frozen hands over candle: Lives alone, no electricity, water, food; doesn't want charity
He's had a difficult life since childhood, but a fall from the tractor made his existence even more difficult. He can't make money on his own, yet doesn't qualify for a disability pension
A candle's flame in a dark and cold room is everything for 34-year-old Misa Stevanovic from Leskovac: both the source of light and heat and the last glimmer of hope for a young man who is completely alone in the world. Reporters found him warming his hands over a candle of the kind used for the Slava (Serbian family patron saint feast).
Fate played with him badly, he says. He has had a difficult life since childhood, and living alone several years now in a dilapidated house without electricity, water, and worst of all, without food, Jugmedia is reporting.
Everything was fine while he was able to work, and he worked from the age of 13 without complaining, taking construction jobs, working on farms, anything just to feed his family.
"And then in I hurt my head in the Green Zone. I fell off a moving tractor, it dragged me along the asphalt about a hundred meters. Everyone thought I was dead because I hit my head against an open shaft hole. At that time, the doctors only detected a concussion, but later I started to lose my balance because of the effects of the injury. I just suddenly fall down in the street. And who's going to hire me now? I tried to exercise my right to at least get a disability pension, but they tell me that I am able to work, that I am not entitled to a pension," he tells his story to Jugmedia through tears.
Fate showed little mercy to him ever since he was a boy. In the 1990s, he and his parents and sister fled Bosnia and Herzegovina escaping the war and devastation. They came to Leskovac because their father was originally from there, but they never found happiness. Soon his father became ill and, due to severe mental disorders, remained in a psychiatric institution for the rest of his life. In 2005, Misa's sister passed away, and in 2013 he lost his mother. He has been left alone in the world and is trying to fight for his existence.
"I'm not living today, I'm surviving. I depend on the goodwill of neighbors and fellow citizens who sometimes give me something to eat," he says, while his face blushes, he says, from embarrassment.
In the meantime, he has become a beneficiary of the social welfare program, which amounts to about 7,000 dinars (about 76 euros) that he receives for 9 months a year, with a 3-month break. Due to his inability to work, he cannot pay the bills that keep piling up. The welfare check doesn't even cover the cost of medication and food. Due to debt, his electricity was swiftly cut off, and then water. His electricity bill, plus interest rate, is 56,000, while that for water has reached 40,000 dinars.
"I had big plans. Maybe move to the country somewhere, get married, start my own family. But how? With what? Where? I don't know how I've wrong God this much. I am not the only one to blame for this situation. I am not an alcoholic, a gambler, a drug addict... People owe a million dinars for electricity but don't get cut off, mine was cut off over two unpaid months. Because I have no one, I have no connections, I fight alone. It's not fair," this young man concluded.
Fellow journalist and cameramen, visibly shaken by this young man's confession, took some money out of their pockets and put it on the table. Misa, embarrassed, starts to sob and choke in tears.
"I don't need charity. I want to work. Something that I'm capable of doing. I won't beg," he said, and returned the money.
They left him in the courtyard in front of a crumbling house on Pupinova Street in Leskovac where he lives, with the bitter conclusion that fate really played badly with this young man, and a shiver running through our bodies at the thought that something like this could have happened to any of us.
Video: Mother and daughter are eternal passengers in a rusty train car in Zeleznik that is their home