By Maj. Marie Richter
First published in
SFOR Informer#121, September 5, 2001
Saturday Aug. 23, British soldiers from Combat
Support Squadron S5 (Plans and Projects) enlisted the help of
many departments from Sipovo station to visit families around
this town in MND SW who had been assessed as needing priority
help. An ongoing programme to give assistance to these families
has been set up and co-ordinated by the S5 for several months.
- Soldiers from the Tank Transporter Squadron visited a house
in which a family of six shared two rooms of a 100-year-old wooden
house in severe disrepair. They were lodging in their neighbours
house while they were away but wished to return home to their
The childrens' bedroom windows had no glass to protect them from
the rain. On arrival it was clear they would have problems during
the winter if help was not given.
Lance Cpl. Dibs Hendrie removed the frames and secured a temporary
perspex sheet over the hole. He said, "It is only a simple
job for us but it would make a big difference to this family."
The frames were taken back to the carpenter's workshop for repair
and new glass fitted.
problem worrying the parents was that the youngest child would
be eligible for school in September, however, the family could
not afford the stationary needed for all four children. Cpl. Colin
Smith donated books, paper and pens to the family from the soldiers.
He spoke of his concern for the children, "They already have
a large obstacle making it several miles away to the nearest school.
But if they have no books or stationery then they are unable to
Poor but dignified
few miles away the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers visited
an elderly couple with failing sight. Since the war they no longer
had a proper home and were living in a shack. They gave them some
chickens and feed and repaired the chicken coop to enable them
to keep the chickens and provide food for the winter. When the
engineers first found this couple they were without food, they
gave them food parcels weekly, and are now in much better health.
With the help of the chickens they have received they will be
able to live less dependently on outside help. They also visited
other families with food donations, including one family of three
generations of females. All of the men in the family had been
killed during the war and now they have to fend for themselves.
The soldiers were touched by this family and promised to return
with more help organising repairs to their tiny home. Despite
their poverty and suffering they all welcomed the soldiers from
Sipovo with open hearts.
Radio troop tackled a special problem of a Moslem family living
in a majority Serb area with no support. The parents were frail
and their twenty-one year old son Cafet was disabled. Living on
the fourth floor of a block of flats meant that the wheelchair-bound
son had not left his home for seven years. WO2 Kemp organised
for the wheelchair to be repaired complete with new wheels and
suspension. They returned the renovated wheelchair, then taking
a team of soldiers, lifted him down the stairs for a look at Sipovo
for the first time in many years. During his walk Kemp asked him,
"How long is it since you have seen a river?" His answer
was shocking to all, "Never" he replied. Unable
to resist a challenge the team found a bridge over the Pliva River
and lifted him to see over the rails for the first look in a lifetime
at one of nature's most simple things that the rest of us take
for granted. The radio troop have adopted Cafet as their special
friend and wish to continue taking him out in their spare time.
Nations of SFOR: UK