Heartbeat of Zagreb

Zagreb - A City With a Spirit of Steel

March 2020 was one to remember if you live in Zagreb. With the global pandemic caused by the coronavirus spreading, our beloved hometown was hit by a strong earthquake like none of us can remember.

It was a calm Sunday morning in Zagreb. I was in bed sleeping since it was 6 a.m. Just over twenty minutes later, a fairly unpleasant feeling woke me up. As I opened my eyes, my room was shaking, and things were falling off the shelves. My first thought was: "Am I dreaming?", the second one was: "Is this going to end soon?" When it finally stopped, I was relieved, but also had no idea about the images and information I will witness that day. Our old but beautiful Zagreb center was hit hard. Some people lost their homes, some people lost their cars, some cultural gems were ruined, but the worst news I received that day was that one young life was lost.

Fundraiser to raise the spirits

In dire times the thing that gives hope is people who come to aid and remind us that we are not alone in this. On the very same day of the earthquake, five women from Zagreb with an Amsterdam address decided to help the people from their hometown. They started an online fundraiser via the popular platform GoFundMe. Their first goal was to raise €50,000, but as time went on, additional damage was reported, and they've decided to change the goal of the fundraiser to €100,000 and then to €200,000. As I'm writing this, they've raised €158,568, so you could say they're almost there. 

Photo Credit: Lice Grada Media

One of the five girls who started the fundraiser explained for Elle Croatia what was the fundraiser for: "We've contacted hospitals, the office for managing urgent situations, and the national headquarters of civil protection. By the end of the day, we'll see where the money is most needed. We'll send it where it's most necessary." 
If the fundraiser is still open, while you're reading this, please consider donating yourself as well. 

Erasing the prejudice

Once the earthquake struck, a lot of places were hit. Experts said the silver lining in the entire event was that it took place during isolation, and in the early-morning hours at the weekend. If more people had been out on the streets, a lot more people would've gotten hurt. Some public institutions were also severely hit, and among them, ones we're especially sensitive about. The maternity ward of the Petrova hospital had to evacuate all pregnant women with their newborn babies. And right there, in front of the Petrova hospital, I found another silver lining.

Photo Credit: Lice Grada Media

Just minutes after the event, Bad Blue Boys, the football fans of Dinamo Zagreb, were there erasing prejudice about them. They were there helping out with the transport of newborn children and incubators that were needed to another hospital in Dubrava. Their help didn't start there. Since the beginning of the pandemic, they organized and started helping the elderly by delivering groceries and medicine to their doorstep. While watching this, I couldn't help to think how little is needed for us to forget our prejudice, to see the human part in each other and come together when it counts. Even the long time rivals of Bad Blue Boys, Torcida, came to help and expressed their support.

A lion's fight met with applause

After this series of unfortunate events, Zagreb was on the receiving end of support in many different forms. There are several other fundraising campaigns to collect money for the people in need. Tourist boards of Rijeka, Srbija, and Slovenia also offered their support as well as some countries such as Slovenia and Italy. There was, and still is so much support, it is impossible to list it all. 

Photo Credit: Lice Grada Media

Besides being the major donors in the fundraiser, the citizens of Zagreb haven't forgotten the struggle of our army, police, civil services, communal service, and of course, firefighters, nurses, and doctors who are always, and still are, on the first line of defense. A beautiful thing happened when citizens of Zagreb went to their windows and balconies and started clapping as a sign of support for all those people fighting. Other cities were clapping as well, all in the name of support to the entire city of Zagreb. It really warmed my heart to see all those people clapping from their balconies in Beograd, Zenica, Banja Luka, Sarajevo, just to mention a few.

Photo Credit: Lice Grada Media

To end on a lighter note and to show you the unbreakable spirit of Zagreb's citizens, I'm going to tell you about the funny comment I read somewhere online which went something like: "If this was a movie, and they combined the pandemic with an earthquake, I would have given it a 3 out of 10 on IMDb."

Stay strong, my Zagreb. With friends and neighbors like this, you are never alone.

Header Image Credit: Lice Grada Media

Author: Tibor Trupec