Success stories

SMART START Serbia: After the rain cupcakes are made

A group of former convicts in Kragujevac founded the association with the symbolic name "After Rain" with the goal of attempting to reintegrate into society after leaving the prison.

What to do after leaving prison? How do you fit back into the surroundings from which you are coming? How can people from your surroundings accept you again instead of looking at you as a former convict? Where to find a job and earn money in a fair way? With all these and many other issues, convicts face when they serve their sentence. The state and laws do not adequately address the problems they face. Many of them, unfortunately, welcome freedom unprepared for reintegration into society. This is supported by a large number of recidivists. The story that follows is precisely the way in which, with their work and effort, with a great desire for freedom and former convicts, they can start a new life.

A group of former convicts in Kragujevac founded the association with the symbolic name "After Rain" with the goal of attempting to reintegrate into society after leaving the prison. This is the second association of this type in Serbia, and first of all out of Belgrade. In a conversation with the president of the association, Dusan Miric, we learned that the name was derived from their expectation better, as a kind of stimulus, because "the sun always comes after the rain."

After the founding, the Association gathered about 700 members, and how serious they are is shown with the support they have from lawyers, students, psychiatrists, ombudsmen and municipalities from which they received rooms for use. The purpose of their gathering is the advisory assistance they provide to people after leaving the prison, but also concrete help - work and regular wages.

According to Dusan, prisoners after leaving the prison have almost no chance of finding a job, which is why they came up with the idea to start their own business and open a bakery.

"We came to the idea for practical reasons, firstly, because bakery as the occupation is mostly represented in prisons, so we were guided by the logic that in this way it would be easier for convicts to persuade the ex-convict to return to work and socially responsible environment, and secondly, I am a baker by profession, "explains Miric.

For now, four people, two former convicts, as well as the wife and mother of one of them are working in their small company. They hope to expand the number of jobs and future cooperation with a foreign investor, as a socially responsible company, which would enable them to become competitive on the market.

The association now has about 900 members and they all have a problem to get hired. As they say, what motivates and inspire them most is that they want to prove themselves, not only as good workers, but also as good entrepreneurs. They want to show that they can live from their work, to earn money in an honest way, to break prejudices that almost always follow them as ex-convicts.

"The state and society prevent us from working in any way," says Dusan. He believes that the state should lead a more responsible social policy and pay more attention to marginal groups, such as former convicts, who are definitely neglected.

The comments from the environment are varied, from those that will not succeed and will return to old habits, to those good and positive ones. "Our regular customers are neighbors, people who recognize our problems, people who believe in us, and this number is growing day by day," Dusan emphasizes. He also points out that their ultimate goal is to reduce the rate of return to prison, reduce crime rates, and provide a good example to young people in their city.

If you are ever passing by, be sure to come to Bitola number 1 in Kragujevac, try their delicious burek and vanilla, and in this way give them support.

All activities from this organization you can follow on: www.facebook.com/nvoposlekise2014