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We cleaned the moon

By 1st Lt. Philippe Mouret
First published in
SFOR Informer#125, October 31, 2001

An Environmental Protection Day took place in Kalinovik on Oct. 20. The event was organised by SFOR, the municipality and the German Heinrich Bll Foundation, with the cooperation of the Sarajevian Association of Citizens for Sustainable Development Stimulation and Quality of Life (FONDEKO).

Kalinovik - Kalinovik is in Republika Srpska (RS), about 40 kilometres to the South of Sarajevo. The city is perched in the middle of one of the karstic landscapes that are so characteristic of the region. These calcareous plateaus, eaten into by water, are strewn with dolines or poljes, which look like lunar craters.
It was in this moon-like scenery that the Environmental Protection Day was held, which rallied 700 children, from ages 6 to 16, and who came from both Entities. They are schooled at Kalinovik, Sarajevo, Hadzici, Srpsko Gorazde and Gorazde. "To reunite them was our first objective," said Rudolf Mauch, program coordinator of Heinrich Bll Foundation.
A study morning
Vehib Cengic, executive director of FONDEKO, showed a short film that displayed a camper unconcerned about nature and battling against a bear. The bear quickly defended itself by using karate moves, and the children roared with laughter. Cengic commented: "This film illustrates the resistance that nature should set against attacks of man. But the human being is assaulted himself in his environment by industries, pollution, noise We should have in mind that we are a part of a whole..." Pupils listened intently, then applauded.
Capt. Gerd Katzer, from the German Battle Group (GEBG), took his place on the stage. He explained: "You must keep in mind nature protection to become responsible adults. After growing, you will change things."
The meeting took place in Kalinovik's community hall decorated with drawings painted by the pupils. These revealed a large awareness of all pollutions: those, common to environmental deterioration, but also those unfortunately specific to BiH, mines.
Practical works
In the afternoon, children spread throughout Kalinovik armed with plastic gloves, shovels, rakes and big bin liners. The young people performed their mission diligently, but this task also allowed for new games. Gloves make tremendous water bombs.
The work started again. It was necessary to dig holes to plant three trees and install a plaque to commemorate this day. Under the command of German 1st Lt. Michael Godel, from Psychological Operations, the small troop pounced on the tools. The City Mayor, Niko Avram, arrived to chair the ceremony accompanied by Brig. Gen. Bernd Kiesheyer, the commander of GEBG. SFOR offered the plaque and a tree. The other two trees were donated by the Heinrich Bll Foundation and the Mirko newspaper.
A new hope
This event was a success, all the more so because the weather was nice. The only downside was that the Kalinovik people were not able participate in the event. Godel explained: "This is one of the poorest region of RS. The first concern of the population is still to be able to subsist." Avram specified: "It is Saturday, people don't work, but they go to the field or do other work to improve daily life."
Nevertheless, hope is back. Valida Kalender, a student who received a scholarship from the Heinrich Bll Foundation concluded: "Sometimes I wish to leave BiH, but when I see people working together, as today, I resume confidence."

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: Germany