By 2nd Lt. Alexandre Barb
First published in
SFOR Informer#114, May 30, 2001
A school and an institute for mentally handicapped
children in Sarajevo received donations from the French April
17. This action has been carried out in co-ordination with the
CIMIC unit of Multinational Division - Southeast (MND-SE).
Sarajevo - With a large smile to say thank you,
the children helped the French soldiers unload their vehicle of
the packs it carried. They were full of the blankets that they've
been waiting for a long time. Sadeta Zecic, director of the Mjedenica
School Institute for mentally handicapped persons, co-ordinated
the delivery. About 70 children, ages 3 to 16, attend special
"The idea of helping the institute came to me when I attended
one of their shows. Then, the director talked to me about their
needs," explained Oxana Soldin, who works at the French National
Support Element (NSE) at Camp Butmir.
blankets came from various donations collected and gathered in
France in the area of Nantes (west). These donations were conditioned
and then chartered on a ship to Ploce (Croatia) where they were
unloaded in April.
"The containers carried many things: food, clothes, a dentist
chair with accessories, notebooks and also hospital beds. The
CIMIC battalion of MND-SE distributed most of them. But I managed
to get those blankets for the institute," declared French
Col. Patrick Allix, CIMIC advisor at the French NSE in Butmir.
Thus the blankets have been driven by road to Butmir where they
were unconditioned before being distributed. But the initiative
of the French didn't stop there. The Mjedenica institute has been
built on the hillside and had many problems because of stormy
"So we asked an engineer to come and assess the property.
For the time being, he's making a plan to maintain the ground
and avoid gulling. Planting trees could be a good solution,"
Allix continued. "Unfortunately, we don't have the means
to achieve those works, but we'll try to help you by founding
the project," he affirmed to the school director.
And beds as well
children quickly covered their beds with their brand new blankets,
sometimes playing with them. "The institute was created in
1948, and since 1951 it has been dedicated to teach mentally handicapped
persons. It has always been based here," Zecic reminded.
"The children also have manual activities after their lessons.
We have more and more requirements to keep spastics, but we don't
have the means to perform it," she highlighted. That's why
the soldiers of the French NSE should come back soon with new
equipment. The hospital beds that had been unloaded in Ploce have
still not been distributed by MND-SE. Allix will get them for
sure and give them to the institute.
On the same day, Staff Sgt. Lionel d'Auber de Peyrelongue and
his colleagues fulfilled the promise they made to the director
of Hrasno School (Novo Sarajevo) last March (SFOR Informer no.
109, March 21, 2001). They delivered about 1,000 notebooks to
the children, as they were having lessons, and didn't know about
the good surprise that was waiting for them after class.
From the Vosges to Sarajevo
phoned the firm, based in the Vosges (East of France), and explained
my project to them; they agreed to give notebooks," d'Auber
de Peyrelongue explained. "Those notebooks arrived at the
same time as the blankets, on the same ship in Ploce. There were
three full pallets of notebooks. Two of them have been distributed
by MND-SE, and we got the third one," Allix added. Some boxes
contained envelopes as well.
"All of this will be very useful - the notebooks for the
pupils, the envelopes for us. For example, for the last show of
the school we had to buy some," noticed Sabaheta Jugo, director
of the Novo Sarajevo School where 900 pupils, ages from 7 to 14,
d'Auber de Peyrelongue has already gone back to France, but he
hasn't forgotten to remind his successor about the ongoing actions.
The baton has been handed over.