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Man lives in a tomb for 15 years

by Staff Reporter
12 February 2013 | 4499 Views
There's no place like home, and for Bratislav Stojanovic, his home is in a tomb.

The homeless Serbian man has been living in an old, seemingly abandoned, cemetery in the southern city of Nis for about 15 years.

The cemetery is so desolate and old that many of deceased's names have faded from their tombs. - MARKO DJURICA/REUTERS

 "I was afraid in the beginning, but I got used to it in time," Stojanovic told Reuters. "Now I am more afraid of the living than of the dead."

Stojanovic settled in the garbage-filled tomb after his home burned down in a fire that also killed his father over two decades ago. The now 40-year-old, who previously worked in construction, found himself without a job or many friends during Serbia's turbulent departure from communism.

He holed up in abandoned homes for a time, but eventually set his sights on the cemetery, so aged and deserted that nearly all of the deceased's names have faded from their gravestones.

 "As other homeless people robbed me on several occasions, I've decided to find a place where no one would bother me, not even police," he explained.

Stojanovic said he initially slept out in the open in the graveyard; but decided to move into an empty tomb, just 3 feet by 3 feet, when the weather turned cold.

There he's lived a quiet, relatively undisturbed life. Sometimes locals will bring him food and other supplies; otherwise, he spends his days picking through trash to find scraps of leftovers and treasured knickknacks.

 "I have never stolen anything. I did not even desecrate the grave I live in, it was already open," he told the Agence France-Presse.

Stojanovic said he bathes in a public bath, but often does not have the money, a little less than $2, to pay for transportation there.

"I also need 120 dinars for a bus fare, as in winter it is not easy to walk two hours to get there," he said.

He likes to pass the time watching people visit the cemetery's main church.

"When someone I like enters the church I count the time he spends inside, no one spends more than half an hour, most often a couple of minutes," he told Reuters.

Stojanovic is one of about 200,000 homeless people living in Serbia. Despite the relatively large homeless population, there is crippling lack of shelters for the destitute.

Only 12 towns in Serbia have shelters and those struggle with little funding, volunteer Mirna Jokic told the Presse.

"We have beds for about 300 people in Belgrade, while we need at least three times more, especially during winter," she said.

Stojanovic, however, said he's happy being one of the "Grobijanci" or "Graveyard men," though he has to be especially careful when he leaves his home.

"It is a real scare to see a man alive coming out of the grave," he said.

Bratislav Stojanovic

Source: NYDN | Reuters


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