In the middle of Medjugorje, Croatia, there is a huge river with flowers and vineyards in the surroundings and so when I sing about Machamoriya, I am going back to a happy place. I am proud to be Medjugorjian.
I feel very good when I sing old songs. I have tapes and cd’s and I listen to them many times .
The reality is that life is very difficult there, so all the young went to Germany and Switzerland.
We use to be a communist country. After the last war between Serbia and Croatia in the 90’s there was suppose to be freedom .
But everything went privatised. A lot of companies got workers, didn’t pay them wages, went bankrupt because there is no control. It’s a beautiful country.
I got hundreds of relatives there. Uncles, aunties, second cousins, and I came from a big family. I still love to go see them.
When the Russian explosion of radiation happened, Croatia had a lot of white dust on the farms and a lot of people have been dying from cancer since.
It was roughly 20 years ago. There have been lot of illnesses and young people are dying from strokes and heart-attacks.
Me and my late husband were very young and decided to move to Australia.
Now I volunteer here in a Nursing home. I haven’t worked for so many years and all my kids have grown up.
I have 13 grandchildren and I use to babysit them all. When the first was born I left my job. Now they are all grown up.
When I do my cleaning and looking after my house what else am I suppose be doing? I’m not going to sit here feeling sorry for myself ! I just fuck off, go get dressed and go somewhere you know.
It makes my day. I come here in the nursing home and say hello to people, kisses and hugs and then I help feed the old people a little bit. Sometimes I sing songs to to them. Then I go home and I feel good.
The way I see it is that my mum was back home in Croatia in a nursing home and I couldn’t be there for her. She passed away seven years ago.
I visited her three times when she was there. But I couldn’t go all the time. So I feel guilty about it.
And now volunteering in the nursing home helps heal those times I could not be there for my mum.
It’s rewarding. I also use to volunteer a lot for cancer. My husband had prostate cancer. And he was fighting that for 11 years then he passed away . We had every treatment then he had bowl cancer, and was in palliative care for many months in and out. Emergency in and out.
Many times I’m thinking I’m going to give up, but no ! I can’t give up ! I can’t just sit at home and be depressed, no.
You know a lot of people my age are now on medication to feel good.I think there is a better way.
You have to go speak to people and you go out and singing is very good. Singing practice in church. I love it. I sung ever since I was a little girl. I use to sing for my grandparents.
And my grandfather use to bring his mates home, big families and i use to sing to them.
He use to put me on the table and tell me to sing. Sing a song for them and they’d give me money.
My father loved to sing. My whole family would sing. My brothers, the two guitarists, would be playing and we just sing.
When my husband passed away I get a bit sad and my daughter has a serious illness, Chrons, and she working all the time. But singing helps a lot.
I can’t fix it, and I’m doing the best I can. Singing takes me to a place where I don’t have to think about it.
Katerina Zadravec, Sydney