Some two weeks ago, Vjera Matulić from Postira on Brač started a Facebook group “Renters with a heart,” in order to enable children with special needs to have a free holiday.
Thanks to her initiative, a family from Kutina is already swimming on Pag Island, a second family has arrived in Trogir, a third in Kaštela, along with a line of families who now have an opportunity to go on a vacation with their children, Index.hr wrote on June 21, 2017.
The aim of this group is to help children with development issues, children whose health is permanently impaired, as well as their parents, caretakers and foster parents with a lower income to holiday for free.
Within 15 days, the group grew to 4,000 members, and a free holiday is in the pipeline for over 100 families currently, who have a child or children with special needs.
Vjera could not imagine such a response. Along with her, the page is also administered by Nikolina. It all began at the moment when Vjera advertised her apartment on Brač island and then saw an ad in which someone offered free accommodation for a family with children.
“This gave me an idea, so I decided to advertise a free stay in the apartment for a family with a child with special needs. That same evening I heard form a family from Sarajevo, and they are coming on August 26. The next day I opened this group on Facebook.
We have found a place for 100 families already, or more, and the condition is that they are families with children with special needs, as those families are needy, impoverished,” Vjera Matulić said in an interview for Index.
She says some immediately called her out for not including other impoverished families, however Vjera explains that families with children who have special needs are impoverished due to the treatments they need.
The group allows posts from renters offering accommodation for those children and their families, caretakers, foster parents, as well as posts from people who want to join in, such as catering establishments, humanitarians and donators.
“I don’t allow promotion, although some tried and advertised their apartments on the page. Some even sent me pictures of apartments with a price list to my inbox. I removed them all from the group,” said Vjera and cited she does not want a good deed to be taken advantage of.
And due to the large response from the public, she is also very busy maintaining the page, as she is constantly monitoring posts and forbidding negative comments that are insulting.
She is also helped by Nikolina, who asked to stay anonymous.
“I help Vjera with the e-mails. We hear from families from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro as well. Although many renters have come forward, we still have many children who would like to come for holidays, than we have capacity. I have to emphasise that any type of accommodation will do, where families with children can come for a break. Meaning, we don’t only need renters by the sea, but also those from Zagreb, Slavonia, Gorski Kotar. We are hoping someone will respond from a spa. We have asked equestrian clubs if they could help and provide free riding lessons which have a therapeutic effect,” Nikolina said.
By viewing the group page, we observed that besides renters there are others offer free meals or free excursions. Although they can receive free accommodation, many families cannot afford a ride to the sea. This is why Vjera got in touch with another Facebook group, “Drivers with a heart.”
“They help us a lot. They organise transportation to the seaside for those who cannot afford it, but they need money for fuel so we advertise their account number. We ask of all group members to donate as much as they can for fuel. On the other hand, our page forbids any mention of money, as accommodation must be free, but in terms of transportation, we would love to hear from some bus companies which can provide a discount for families coming to us,” said Vjera.
She says there is plenty of work involved in running the page. She is also helped by her daughters and another lady.
“At first I thought it would be nice if I could find free accommodation for 5 families with children. But now there are over 100, much work is to be done, and I still have my own guests, and I work every day from 15 to 23h. And I monitor carefully what people write so all this effort would not go to waste. We don’t seek fame, we just want to help children with special needs to go on holiday.” said Vjera.