Danica Smic was born in Belgrade in 1937. She survived the bombing of Belgrade and, with some luck, avoided death hiding in the basement of the building in Vracar where she lived with her parents. She has two sons, and she is a retired physics and mathematics teacher, however, she is also a volunteering hero, with more than 50 years of charity work driven by her selfless desire to help all people in trouble.

“Volunteering is one of my great pleasures. I love visiting persons who are living alone so that they don’t feel lonely or forgotten”, says Danica who completed a course for a volunteer Red Cross nurse in 1970, and she hasn’t stopped actively participating in public life ever since – during both war and peace: “If we want this world to be a better, more just and humane place to live, the first step is to volunteer, to help one another, not only during pandemics or floods, but it should be an everyday part of our lives”.

The testament to humanity – Danica Smic’s Red Cross volunteer ID

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dana was quite active, she is writing and publishing and she is staying in touch with older people who need help, or who feel lonely, scared or rejected by the community. During her fifty years of activism and volunteering, Dana was an advocate of elder rights: “Older people are not the burden of the society, the society can benefit from them, but intergenerational solidarity is especially important, and this has become evident during the coronavirus pandemic. Coronavirus didn’t stop us from helping each other, and we still managed to volunteer, but in a different way, and intergenerational solidarity helped us to contact each other and to learn from each other.”

This volunteer says that everyone must find their “inner volunteer” and help people in their surroundings as much as they can. Family and school are particularly important when it comes to building these habits among children and young people: “I think that there should be lessons about volunteering and solidarity, and that people should engage in these activities from an early age. We are a nation that loves, knows how to and wants to help each other, but we also tend to forget things very quickly.”

At a bus stop – a volunteer on her way to visit a dependent elderly person, EU project “Increased Participation of Older Women in Public and Political Life”, Citizens Association Amity (Belgrade, Serbia)

Dana Smic is in the photograph “At a bus stop – a volunteer on her way to visit a dependent elderly person” which won the first place in the category Best EU project photo in the Human in Focus contest organised by the EU Delegation to Serbia in partnership with National Geographic Serbia. The photograph was submitted by the project titled “Increased Participation of Older Women in Public and Political Life”, implemented by Citizens Association Amity in partnership with FemPlatz organisation. “I am so happy because of the photo, I’m speechless. With all kinds of success and praise comes even greater joy, but even greater responsibility. This inspires you and it is an incentive for you to continue working”.