By Sladjana Dimic, Red Cross of Serbia

Zorana Arunovic is the best female sports shooter in Serbia. She has won gold medals in air pistol shooting in both World and European Championships, as well as represented her country in the Olympic Games.

Now Zorana, 34, is supporting her country as it battles COVID-19, just as she was once helped herself when she came as a refugee from Croatia to Serbia in the 1990s. “Both friends and strangers helped us then. Now it is my turn,” she says.

Zorana volunteers at the information centre set up by the Serbian Red Cross to support people who are staying at home. She spends her days responding to people’s calls and giving anyone who needs to talk a listening ear, information, encouragement and consolation. Zorana is happy to share her optimism with the diverse group of people calling the centre. There was even a call from a young man, who just wanted to speak with the famous athlete.

“My first visit to the Red Cross was a long time ago,” she remembers. “But I am regularly there for the blood drives. I started doing this because I was afraid of needles. In this way I managed to overcome my fear. I know how important blood is and the knowledge that I am helping someone has freed me of this fear.”

As all her competitions and trainings have been cancelled, Zorana continues to keep fit at home and encourages others to do so too. “Staying at home is equally as important as staying in shape. This is a fight on two fronts, with the unknown and with ourselves, to endure the isolation.”