Perhaps you remember the big question mark that was the mysterious truck which drove daily down the street I live on projecting muffled sounds. Perhaps not in which case this is the post where I first introduced it.
I'm not sure what I was expecting but the mystery isn't exactly ground-shaking. The Roma men have prerecorded the message which asks for various secondhand items that they either resell at the open markets by the fortress on weekends or they make use of them fixing the broken objects or finding a different uses for them. My host dad answered my questions about this and he was very vexed in doing so. He said the whole neighborhood finds it all very bothersome and almost never do people actually give them anything. The men are usually interested in metal but sometimes they'll ask for something specific like a broiler or paper.
The speaker really blasts the voice so that you can hear it even when it's blocks away and on the narrow roads it completely holds up traffic so I understand the complaints. Still I love the idea of sustainability and the three rs -- none of which have hit Serbia yet, recycling is non-existent and hardly anyone is or has been told to be environmentally conscious -- so one day when I heard them ask for paper I ran outside and handed them a whole bunch of notebooks that I've received from various organizations and events that I don't care to load my suitcase with back to the states. The men welcomed them with open arms and loaded them into the back of the truck. The trunk had hardly anything else and we live near the top of the hill so they had already passed through most streets.
A few days later one of my students was showing off a notebook during our English class. It was most definitely one I had given them as it was from a small NGO in Novi Sad. I didn't say anything but I was a bit embarrassed I hadn't made the connection that the men in the trucks probably live in the settlement I volunteer at because it's the closest settlement to my neighborhood. And it made me very happy to see it being used in a classroom setting and to see the girl appreciate it. This is a jump but that's sort of the conclusion I've reached and heard preached about serving directly and indirectly: it's always good to give of your time for any cause but when you are working with the cause, in the cause, surrounded by the cause and you can see some of your work through, it's more gratifying and fulfilling and it refuels your desire to serve.
I apologize the mystery is not so fascinating but it was fun to figure out and fortuitously see the cycle through.