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Little help - big difference

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.

Sipovo - 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 neighbour’s house while they were away but wished to return home to their own house.
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.
Another 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 attend."
Poor but dignified
A 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.
First sight
The 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.

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: UK
Humanitarian Aid