Friday, December 13, 2019

Inspired by Vida Sreta Žuljević

Vida Sreta Žuljević & Her Creations

Students - Today's poem grew from a story shared with me by my friend Vida who you see in the above photograph, surrounded by enchanting handmade animals and dolls. When I read her beautiful words, words that you will soon read, I wished to write a poem inspired by her generosity. As we live our lives, we will at times meet people who inspire us greatly. Vida is one such person in my life. So I invited her to The Poem Farm, to share the story about the photo you see above.

Strangely enough, today, this Friday the 13th morning, after waking up and rereading this poem, I felt something familiar. It reminded me of a song. I knew the song was from LES MISERABLES (which I saw on stage this week), but I did not know which song. I listened to several and realized that today's poem can be loosely sung to Valjean Arrested Valjean Forgiven. Yes, I did watch LES MIS this week, and no I did not realize that this song had lived inside of me as I wrote about Vida. I had to sing it to myself to see if I was right. The workings of the mind are surprising, that is for sure.

A warmest welcome to my dear friend, Vida, who joins us from her home city of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina. And too, a great thank you to the young poets who made this gift-to-the-world possible. Please click to enlarge any illustrations.

Vida Sreta Žuljević:

I fulfilled my New Year's resolution to knit/crochet/sew one hundred toys and ornaments, sell them, and then donate all the money to children from socio-economically deprived families who attend the multi-ethnic, inclusive early learning center "Sunny Bridge,” the only one of its kind (out of 21 early learning centers) in our city, Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

From Google Maps

100 Toys & Ornaments, All Made by Vida

I encouraged and instructed children (my granddaughters and my friends’ children/grandchildren) to write poems about the toys I was making and to participate that way in this fund-raising as well. I informed the children that I'd send their poems and illustration to a local publisher to publish a collection of their poems.  

They wrote some wonderful poems in three different forms: cinquain, acrostic, and couplets, and they drew the illustrations to each. All the children-authors agreed with the idea to donate the proceeds from the books to the ELC "Sunny Bridge" along with the money earned from my toys. I liked that idea very much and named this whole project "Children to Children." 

The event was held at the Gallery of the City's Cultural Center on Dec. 3, 2019. The director of the ELC "Sunny Bridge" and I wrote a short program in which we reflected a little on my 40 years’ experience working with children in four countries on two continents and on my continuous volunteering since my retirement in the U.S. and my return to my home city, Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

Then, the young poets I worked with, whose poems about the toys were published in the beautifully designed collection, read their poems (How could I do anything without poetry!). 

At the same time, we projected their wishes for all the children in the world on a wall. There were such touching, heartfelt wishes from these little heads! My granddaughter, Bianca, who lives in Washington State, was videotaped and appeared on the screen greeting the people and wishing us a successful event and good earnings from Grandma's toy fund-raising event to help children in need. Her two poems were included in the book, too. My gosh! My heart barely handled that much emotion! 

People in the audience were mesmerized. There were children from the children's choir "Male mostarske kiše" (Mostar's Little Raindrops) performing children’s songs, a fifth-grade pianist, a 15-year-old guitar player performing John Lennon's “Imagine” (Wow!), lots of fun and laughter, and of course, some dance. The gallery was packed. 

The 100 toys were sold in 15 minutes after they were placed onto the tables. If we’d had 200 toys, they would have been gone! But the people attending the event, the children, the employees of “Sunny Bridge,” their director, and I were way beyond happy. 

It was a night of genuine love, genuine humanity, and a genuine feeling of togetherness on many different levels (despite the many kinds of divisions in our city ever since the latest war in the early nineties). And the " glue" that brought us all together were the children of our city, children in need. 

We hope that this will be just a pebble that starts a ripple-effect of love, compassion, and humanity in general in our city and wider. 

If anyone who is reading this post is interested in donating money to the children in need that attend the early learning center "Sunny Bridge" in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, below is their bank's SWIFT number, at which the donations can be deposited in foreign currencies (such as USD).

Name: Multietnički inkluzivni vrtić ''Sunčani most'' ***
Address: Muje Pašića bb, 88000 Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bank: Sparkasse Banka, Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

*** ''Sunčani most'' translates to "Sunny Bridge,” which is the name of the early learning center. Preceding its name is its designation as a multi-ethnic and inclusive early learning center.

Thank you, Vida...thank you for all of this goodness.

It would be impossible for me to feel more grateful to know Vida and to have the opportunity to share this story with you. Every single person can do good. Each of us can offer a hand in some way. If you find yourself combining poetry with kind actions, please let me know. I would love to feature your work as well.

Elizabeth is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at at Elizabeth Steinglass with a cool and surprising poem about a favorite word. We invite everybody to join in each Friday as we share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship. Check out my left sidebar to learn where to find this poetry goodness every week.

Please share a comment below if you wish.


  1. Oh, dear Amy, it was so great to find your wonderful poem and the post about my project this morning!Thank you for your kindness pie.:) We all can find some ingrediants for our own kindness pies in our hearts, then "make" them and share them with others. I hope the students and people reading your poem and this post will be inspired to do so. Love you much, my dear friend!❤

  2. Your poem makes my heart happy today, Amy. Thank you!

  3. I love meeting Vida and all her joyous creations... beautiful! And Amy, I rather like thinking of your poem-heart as a big oven full of kindness pies....delicious! xo

    1. Irene, thank you very much for your kind comments. <3

  4. Wow. I can definitely see why this inspired a heaping serving of kindness pie! Thank you for sharing it with all of us.

  5. What a lovely, heartwarming post, every bit of it. Great learning about Vida's wonderful project -- the toys and poems are amazing! And "Kindness Pie" is my new favorite type of pie, thanks to you.

  6. Amy, how wonderful all of this is!

  7. Thank you all for your lovely comments. They mean a lot to me. <3

  8. What a wonderful idea Vida had! Thank you, Amy, for sharing her project highlighting children who are our hope for tomorrow. The children's poetry book is amazing. How excited they must be to see their poems and drawings in print. Kindness Pie- the very best pie!

  9. It is an inspiration to see that Vida and her group are giving many slices of 'kindness pie' these recent weeks. The animals and the children's drawings and poems are wonderful, and your poem shows your loving heart, Amy. Would that everyone would "Imagine" such a world filled with this kind of pie! Thank you all for what you do!

  10. Vida knows how to make a New Year's resolution! Wow! She really pulled off an amazing project, very special for the young people who were involved. Thank you for feeding us some of your kindness pie today! It was delicious! ❤️

  11. Kindness pie is the BEST! The goodness in this post is overflowing.

  12. Yesterday morning as we prepared for our classroom Poetry Friday, a student asked, "Can we choose poems from The Poem Farm?" And I said, "Of COURSE!" And this was one of the poems shared in our room on Friday. We liked the gloriously illogical math in your poem (dividing the pie multiplies it)!!!

  13. Amy, thank you for sharing Vida's story--she is inspiring. I love your poem about kindness pie--may kindness continue to grow and be shared.

  14. I love Vida's creations! And that sweet owl and poem. Thank you for sharing Vida and her work with all of us. XX -- Christie @