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SFOR gives help to local children

By Capt. Luis Barber
First published in
SFOR Informer #100, November 8, 2000

Sarajevo - A playhouse for children was donated to the Bosnia and Hercegovina (BiH) Institute for Special Education for Children in Mjedenica, Sarajevo, Oct. 25.
"Lachen Helfen" sponsored this project. This was a private initiative, later a charitable organisation, founded by German soldiers in 1996. Their aim was to carry out a programme to provide humanitarian aid for children of all ethnics in areas affected by war and other crises. They ensure that all donations reach their destination by being distributed to them by soldiers.
"Lachen Helfen" has an office in Rajlovac, Sarajevo, which takes care of the German humanitarian aid in BiH. Sgt. Jens Kammerdiener is the coordinator in the German Contingent.
German Warrant Officer 1 Bernd Ullrich, of the German National Support Element in Butmir, was the coordinator. When he arrived in Sarajevo, he looked for a new project in which to use the money usually collected for charity.
"We found the Institute Mjedenica and decided to help those children to laugh again. Money isn´t everything, but it helps. For me it was a great success to see the children laugh again, " explained Ullrich.
Just like other times, they counted on the support of a lot of people in SFOR making another project come true in Sarajevo. German soldiers have about 30 moneyboxes disseminated in Sarajevo for collecting. Also during their National Holiday and Octoberfest they devoted the profits - 5,000 DM in total - to this project. But this time, not only the German soldiers organised events for raising money. The Irish contingent put together 2,785 DM by means of popular contests and collections among SFOR personnel.
Due to the charitable nature of the purchase, the firm that sold the playhouse gave it cheaper than usual. The disassembled playhouse was brought from Germany and transported to the Institute by German military trucks. A group of six German and Irish were selected to assemble it. They worked during the morning and part of the afternoon Oct. 23 to finish this work. Children were everywhere, feeling very curious and happy about their new "toy". For these men, the children's smiles were a fair payment for their efforts.
Sadeta Zecic, Institute director, explained that the Institute started their labour 50 years ago with the same purpose as nowadays. With a staff of 60 members of teachers, medics, cooks, keepers and others, the institute takes care of 200 handicapped children. Half of them live there.
This institution is financed with funds coming from government and different non-governmental organisations. The children have disabilities ranging from slight to serious levels. Zecic explained that with the hard times of war finished, their building was reconstructed. They have new furniture and toys, but are in need of material for teaching.
"We are very grateful to SFOR for the support given. SFOR gives as much as SFOR can," she said.

Related links:
Humanitarian Aid
Nations of SFOR: Germany, Ireland