Help iconographer Ugjlesa Mileta get urgent medical treatment
Ugljesa Mileta is a highly respected Orthodox Church iconographer from Belgrade, Serbia. He has decorated Orthodox churches and monasteries from Belgrade, to Vienna, to Greece and the Middle East, from Mt. Sinai to Mt. Athos and North America. He is currently the iconographer at Holy Cross Orthodox Church in Yakima, Washington in the United States. He has mentored many other iconographers who want to improve their skills... and at no cost! He was born with hemiparesis of the entire right side of his body, and he paints exclusively with his left hand. This disease caused him to almost lose his life this summer, but he was helped by the doctors at the Acute Center Denver Co and ERC in the same city. He was then diagnosed with SMA (Superior mesenteric artery) syndrome and an eating disorder. The treatment lasted 2 months and he returned to Yakima healthy. Unfortunately, funds ran out for continued therapy, his insurance is not covering everything, his condition got worse, and he needs to return to treatment in Denver. They are able to get him in as soon as next week (Week of 12/25).
With your help, Ugljesa and Zvezdana will be able to cover the following medical bills and ultimately, continue their ministry:
$200,000 - $320,000
Ugljesa gets back into critical medical treatment (urgent)
Pay for all past medical bills
Set up a reserve fund for continued required treatment in 2025 and 2026
From our priest: After about six years into his recent project in Yakima, Ugljesa began experiencing episodes of anxiety that finally became so acute that he was rarely able to work. Unfortunately this affliction is not uncommon within the iconographic community. The evil one especially works evilly against such holy work and those who practice it. The Miletas amassed tremendous hospital bills and are seeking some form of relief.
The church can continue to cover living expenses and have enlisted the services of a patient advocate, but the funds required for medical needs are now well beyond the capacity of our church community. We are asking for help. Ugljesa’s iconography is truly a global ministry. May God bless this effort!
Note: Please follow this campaign as we will continue to update it with much loved icons painted by Ugljesa and their stories, along with check-ins on Ugljesa's health.
From Zvezdana, Ugljesa’s wife.
My name is Zvezdana Mileta, and I am 53 years old. I am writing this on behalf of my sick husband Ugljesa, who is also 53 years old. We were born in Serbia, and our blessed work took us all over the world. I want to share our life with you and explain this accident that befell us.
My husband has been an iconographer (a painter in the Orthodox Christian Church) for 33 years. He has worked as the main painter in a Serbian iconographic studio, but he has been working alone for the last 15 years. We have no children and live, if I may say so, a kind of an ascetic life. We have been married for 24 years and I have been following him all my life, traveling around the world and painting Orthodox churches. In addition, he provides free of charge training to many artists who want to do icon painting. I usually assist him with simple tasks. For these twenty years, my husband has decorated many temples and monasteries throughout Serbia, Austria, Germany, Greece, on the Holy Mount of Sinai where he painted the guest dining room in the monastery of St. Catherine and a hermitage dedicated to St. John the Russian. He had his own workshop at the monastery of St. Catherine where he painted icons for the needs of the monastery.
Mt. Sinai is close to our hearts, and we have returned to it trying to contribute to this holy place with our work. This is the place where we felt the great grace of God and met some of today's greatest spiritual elders. We were able to see how those holy elders lived, who in return showed us the Living God through their lives. Our spiritual father, Father Pamphilos, is the Archimandrite (the abbot) of the Monastery of St. Catherine in Sinai but is now on Mount Athos, where he fights the ascetic battle and prays for the entire world and for us sinners.
Ugljesa in America
We came to America for the first time in 2003 and painted the Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church in Butte, Montana with several of our colleagues. We really liked the life and people in America, and I always wanted to come back here. At the invitation of Father Joseph Copeland, we came to Yakima, Washington in 2012 and began painting Holy Cross Orthodox Church.
Everything was fine until about 6 to 7 years ago when Ugljesa's father died. His father was the only family member who, up until then, was alive. His mother died young from cancer, and his younger brother also died in 2007. These events, his inability to be present for his father’s funeral, hard work, and our regular life struggles combined with trying to figure out our life in America, created a lot of stress for him. He started to deteriorate and get sick. The biggest problem has been, and still is, the weight loss, vomiting, stomach pains and muscle contractions. He was born with hemiparesis of the entire right side of his body, and he paints exclusively with his left hand. This disease caused him to almost lose his life this summer, but he was helped by the doctors at the Acute Center Denver Co and ERC in the same city. He was diagnosed with SMA syndrome and an eating disorder. The treatment lasted 2 months and he returned to Yakima healthy. We were helped by the Church where we work, the priest and all the wonderful people in it.
About two months ago the disease returned, he has been losing weight rapidly, vomiting constantly and has not been able to keep anything in his stomach. His suffering is immense, he moans in pain day and night. He is on the brink of physical and mental strength. My heart bleeds and my soul aches. His suffering has affected me, too, as I have lost 40 pounds. But I have to be strong, for him, for us. We have been fighting against this destruction with prayer. Many people and many monasteries are praying for him all over the world.
However, our church is no longer able to help us financially with fighting this disease, and we have never had any money because we have been doing our work all our lives for modest pay and often for free.
We need help! We have never asked anyone for anything in our lives, and this is very difficult for us. We don't have our own house, nor do we have any material possessions. We live in a house provided by our Church here in Yakima, and they sponsored us in obtaining our Green Cards. My husband is a very modest man, and he is extremely ashamed that we are asking for financial help. We have never earned money from any work other than from painting the Face of the Lord, the Holy Mother of God, the Angels of God and all His Saints. May they always help us and all of you, dear unknown people!
In anticipation of Christ’s Nativity, we greet you all - Christ Is Born!
Zvezdana and Ugljesa Mileta