By Capt. Luis Barber
First published in
SFOR Informer #100, November 8,
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.
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
"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
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
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.
Nations of SFOR: Germany,