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4-H programme set up in Sarajevo

Cpl. Olivier Bureau
First published in SFOR Informer #57, March 17, 1999.

Sarajevo - "Hello, I am Linda Eilks. The peace stabilisation mission in Bosnia and Hercegovina brought me here to work on agriculture development." That is the way the video tape which will be sent to the United-States Department of Agriculture (USDA) begins. This tape aims to establish connections between a school in Sarajevo following a programme of agriculture development and American schools already involved in the same kind of operation. It also aims to spread those programmes throughout Bosnia.

Everything began one year ago, in March 1998. American Capt. Linda Eilks, of the CIMIC Task Force, had been in Theatre for three months when she started working with the Mixed Secondary School of Agriculture, Veterinarian and Food Industry. After having given some lectures on agriculture careers to about 60 students, she decided along with the teachers and students, to form a 4-H club in that school. This acronym means "Head, Heart, Hands, Health". These are development programmes concerning agriculture methods and careers. This school is the first in the whole Bosnia and Hercegovina where this kind of operation is led. The 4-H clubs are a huge structure in the United-States and a lot of young people take part to these programmes. Present in about hundred countries, these clubs have existed under their present form since 1917. Their way of working is closely linked to the country where they are running.

"In the United-States, 4-H clubs are based on volunteerism, a not very developed concept, here in Bosnia. That is the reason why the groups are led by a teacher instead of being directed by a volunteer adult. But the content remains the same," Eilks explained.

At the USDA, there is someone in charge of the co-ordination of the 4-H organisation. The clubs are generally in contact with each other. It is a true network covering a large part of the planet.

The key player in the video and the overall operation is Safa Durmisevic, interpreter for the CIMIC Functional Teams. Eilks has been working with her since the beginning and this close co-operation made things easier. "She has assured the contacts with the teachers. She became personally responsible and wants to see this project be successful," Eilks added. Durmisevic works with Eilks in the introduction to the video tape.

This tape is a perfect example of co-operation between different SFOR services. The Italian CIMIC helped out by "lending" Milenko Prstojevic, an interpreter who is also something of a movie producer. He is the one behind the video camera which was amiably donated by SSgt. Elaine Tuman, from SFORs Radio MIR. She is also doing a presentation about the city of Sarajevo at the end of the tape.

Once the introduction, performed by Eilks and Durmisevic, is done, Meriha Hamadic, the school pedagogue (school counsellor) presents the school, then Vehid Aganovic, horticulture teacher talks about the curriculum taught. This tape also shows all of the enthusiastic students involved in the course.

"Our students are very interested in this experience. This has brought them a lot of new knowledge in many fields, particularly in the way of production and the way to put their products on the market. The key phrase of this operation is, 'to learn'. These 4-H activities are motivating them. That makes their desire to meet other young people in 4-H clubs stronger," Meriha Hamadic explained. So, it is only a beginning. "I may be planting the seed of something that could grow further," Eilks concluded.