By Sgt. Kerensa Hardy
First published in
SFOR Informer#107, February 21,
A group of under privileged local youths were treated
to a day filled with fun, games and food by members of the British
Army Air Corps.
The United Kingdom Lynx Detachment partnered with the Holy Ground
Mission in Ilijas to bring 14 boys for a half-day visit to Camp
Butmir. The boys ranged in age from about 6 to 16.
Sgt. Maj. Steve Gerhold, detachment sergeant major, said he heard
through his NSE about the Holy Ground Mission in Ilijas, about
10 miles outside Sarajevo. He was told about boys who live near
the facility. Although the young men do not live at the mission,
they depend on Holy Ground for clothing, shoes and food.
though it'd be a good idea if we brought them out here,"
he said. "It was just a day out for them. They are from a
pretty deprived area and we wanted to give them a look at what
They were picked up from the mission and arrived at the British
Army Air Corps hangar at the Sarajevo airport around 9 a.m. There,
they got a chance to sit in a British aircraft, a Lynx Mark 9.
The boys had their pictures taken and were each given an honorary
While at the hangar, the boys played each other and soldiers in
games of pool and Ping-Pong.
the stay at the hangar, volleyball and basketball awaited the
group at the fitness center on Camp Butmir. The boys worked up
a healthy appetite and ended their visit by feasting on a huge
lunch at the dining facility.
All of the boys, from the youngest to the oldest, seemed to enjoy
themselves and said they didn't want the day to end. But, as the
saying goes, all good things must come to an end. The boys returned
to Ilijas after lunch so they could attend school.
"The boys are full (of joy), and I am full for them,"
said Samuel Mitchell, a missionary at Holy Ground Mission. "The
mission provides a communal spot for them," he said. "It's
warm, it's comfortable.
"They have such restricted lives, we're just happy to see
them off the street."
Gerhold said he was happy to be able to do this for the boys.
He also thanked all of those who made the event possible: the
American, British and Norwegian exchanges, the Morale and Welfare
Activity (MWA) and the dining facility staff and manager, Glenn
Meekings. He also thanked Sgt. Ian Fielding who made all the preparations
for the visit, but was unable to attend. Sgt. Pete Law, who recently
departed, stepped in to pick up where Fielding left off.
Holy Ground Mission was founded in 1996 and was initially run
out of a partially destroyed building. The facility has since
been rebuilt and has a staff of nine and a nurse. It now houses
10 elderly residents in its hospice and is home to two slightly
emotionally handicapped young women and a mother of twins.
Approximately 2,000 families depend on the mission for humanitarian
aid, said Sanela Milosevic, director. It provides meals for needy
families in the area five days a week. The needy are given ration
cards and can come to the mission once a month to get food items
as they are available. The mission also offers English classes
for local children from 2 to 5 p.m. daily.
Lately, there hasn't been much in stock to provide for the needy
families. Only those with emergency needs have been able to receive
help. And even then, it's a few cans of food - not enough for
any substantial amount of time.
Nations of SFOR: UK