In a packed room, Dragan Mitić moderates a session with dozens of his peers, engaging them on the plight of refugees and displaced people in Serbia. The interactive workshop, In Their Sneakers, aims to boost empathy with those who have sought refuge and asylum in the country while combating xenophobia and social exclusion they often face.
More than a year since its launch, In Their Sneakers has been the foundation of projects nurturing creativity in coming up with solutions for forcibly displaced people to effectively integrate into local communities.
Serbia, over the years, has seen significant forced displacement both within its borders and among its neighbours in the region. It currently hosts more than 3,000 refugees, asylum-seekers, and migrants.
The UNHCR office in Serbia comprises less than 50 people, and volunteers like Mitić have helped advance its critical work. While an aspiring biomedical and environmental engineering professional, he also brings more than eight years of experience in digital communication and external relations, enabling him to effectively champion the rights and protection of the displaced in the country.
As a national UN Volunteer, Mitić validates the belief that everyone can contribute to tackling common obstacles and creating progressive change. He works directly with those UNHCR seeks to serve and protect—and with each interaction, his admiration for their personal resolve and resilience grows.
Their stories of overcoming unimaginable challenges and hardships moved me to the core, fueling my determination to try and help make a positive difference in their lives. --Dragan Mitić, national UN Volunteer with UNHCR.
From day one, he embraced this opportunity to invest his time and talent in a cause which he firmly believes. "It was my heartfelt mission to ensure that their voices were heard and amplified to a wider audience through social media platforms," says Mitić.
Through advocacy and engagement, he compels audiences, stirring their awareness of the challenges the forcibly displaced encounter and promoting more inclusive policies that guarantee their rights on par with host communities.
Digital technology and communication tools allow him to carry out his work and reach countless people across the country and beyond. With his contributions, Mitić bolsters UNHCR’s advocacy to fellow Serbians—from the government to the general public—leveraging support to better protect their wellbeing and fundamental rights to housing, healthcare, education, livelihoods, and more.
I discovered that the power of equality lies in the gifts that refugees bring with them—stories, culture, and talents; we are part of the same world, and our diversity if a wealth that should be celebrated. --Dragan Mitić, national UN Volunteer, reflects on lessons learned while at UNHCR
Mitić reflected on the growing displacement around the world, which at present, stands at a staggering 110 million individuals, those who fled their homes because of conflict, natural disasters, and other crisis situations. Encouraging others to consider opportunities to become a UN Volunteer, he said, "Through volunteer work, you challenge yourself, foster resilience, and discover your true potential."
In sharing his volunteer experience, Mitić hopes to inspire more citizen participation and action to support displaced people.