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Children benefit from kindness of soldiers

By Sgt. Kerensa Hardy
First published in
SFOR Informer#115, June 13, 2001

Breza There were smiles all around as far as the eye could see as the children climbed on, in and through the structure made for them by a few SFOR soldiers.
On May 26, parents, staff and friends of the approximately 60 students who attend the Breza Kindergarten said a warm thank-you to those who worked hard to add a little joy to the lives of the children.
German Sgt. Maj. Martin Malkmus and Irish Regimental Sgt. Maj. Bernard Weldon spearheaded the project that culminated in the building of a jungle gym of sorts for little ones in Breza.
The playground equipment came from a German barracks that was to accommodate refugees from KFOR.
The refugees did not arrive, Malkmus said. So the idea was, if the refugees dont arrive we could move the playground (here).
Various SFOR troops donated money to pay for food and materials that would later be used to paint the jungle gym the countrys colours yellow and blue. The gym was driven from Germany to Camp Butmir in February. It was put together and painted at the camp by Irish, German and American volunteers. It was finally put in place about two weeks ago.
Malkmus said the idea to help this little school in Breza came from Nina Sarajcic, a local civilian who works at the German PX on Camp Butmir. Often many outside countries and organisations focus on providing financial aid or other assistance to Sarajevo or other major areas in BiH and the little places are forgotten, she said.
I live in Ilidza and I know that in all the places around Sarajevo nobody helps only sometimes, Sarajcic said. She said she heard of the day care centre and of all the problems the it encountered, she and Malkmus agreed that it would be good to help them.
Both Catholic and Muslim children attend this kindergarten, one of the things that Malkmus said he liked about it. This was the important thing helping them all, he said.
The workers at the kindergarten have not been paid in the last 15 months, yet they are faithful in nurturing and providing tender loving care to these young minds.
I volunteered to paint because I enjoy keeping busy and I love doing good things for others, said US Navy Petty Officer Michelle Natividad. The children only had grass to play on and now with this new playground, they have a reason to go and enjoy the summer and play with other children.
I was very pleased to see the smiles of the children and the excitement in their eyes when the playground was up and running.

Related link: Humanitarian Aid