Healing Hearts

The Impact of Helping Hand in Pula, Croatia

News April 16, 2024

15 April 2023| Pula, Croatia [Vanesa Pizzuto and David Neal]

Helping Hand opened its doors to the public on 9 May 2021 in the ancient city of Pula, Croatia. Its mission is as simple as it is powerful: to lend a hand to anyone in the community who needs support with their health, emotions, relationships, and spirituality—all without any charge.

“COVID was a trigger point because we realised everything was changing. People were very lonely, even angry…” explained Dr Lidija Godina, former social worker and lecturer serving at the Helping Hand Centre. “We were really worried about it and decided to turn our worries into action by helping people with their [physical] health, mental health, and spirituality.” Thanks to the generous and collaborative support of the Trans-European Division (TED), the Adriatic Union Conference, the Croatian Conference, and the Pula church, a dedicated team of professionals now stands at the heart of this 3,000-year-old city, ready to make a real difference.

According to Pastor Mišo Havran, Health Ministries director for the Croatian Conference and founder of Helping Hand, the essence of the centre lies in its unique blend of health and spirituality. “I think we offer a great health message, a spiritual message and prayer too. We combined them together and opened this centre,” he said. While Helping Hand openly embraces its Christian identity, it’s important to note that prayers and spiritual workshops are optional and available only to those who seek them out.

Individuals turning to Helping Hand face a myriad of challenges—addictions, fractured relationships, depression. Yet, the feedback echoes a common theme: the centre is making a tangible difference in their lives.“People say this is exactly what they needed. Some people call us angels, which we are not. But we are doing our best to support them, and especially thankful to God for the opportunity,” shared Godina.

Captured together in the heart of historic Pula, representatives of the collaborative support for Helping Hand, from left to right: Lidija Godina (Pula church), Mišo Havran (Croatian Conferfence), Vanesa Pizzuto (TED), and Neven Klačmer (Adriatic Union Conference).

In a world often marred by isolation and despair, Helping Hand stands as a beacon of hope, offering not just assistance, but a community where individuals find support and the courage to rebuild their lives.

Featured image: Vanesa Pizzuto and Lidija Godina engaged in good conversation for tedNEWS at Helping Hand counselling centre.

[Photos: David Neal].

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