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Youths treated to day out of fun and games

By Sgt. Kerensa Hardy
First published in
SFOR Informer#107, February 21, 2001

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.
"We 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 we do."
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 pilot-for-a-day certificate.
While at the hangar, the boys played each other and soldiers in games of pool and Ping-Pong.
After 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.
The 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.

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: UK
Humanitarian Aid