By Capt. Russell Craig
First published in
SFOR Informer#129, December 26, 2001
Dec. 22, the United Kingdom (UK) National Support
Element (NSE) took 25 boxes of aid to their adopted charity, in
time for Christmas. The collection had been carried out by two
private soldiers of the Royal Logistics Corps (RLC).
Ilijas - A large van, packed with goods, arrived
at the Holy Ground Mission, much to the delight of a crowd of
children who streamed out to greet the people unloading the boxes.
The children quickly lost their initial shyness and were soon
laughing, joking and playing snowball fights with the soldiers.
The delivery was the culmination of months of hard work which
began at a British army base in Gutersloh, Germany.
started with us sorting out football kits. Sgt. Best said we could
have them to take out to Bosnia Herzegovina (BiH). We asked people
in the block for spare kit (and it) continued from there: on camp
and with families in Gutersloh. After two months collection
we had to stop it, we couldn't get anymore out here," said
British Pvt. Gemma Starkey of 98 Postal and Courier (PC) Squadron.
"We were really surprised at how generous people were. It
was not just old stuff, but new toys as well," said Pvt.
Toni Hill of 98 PC Sqn. "We just wanted to see people's faces
and to make a difference to people's lives
to give them a
bit of joy over Christmas."
The mission was started during the war in BiH by a couple from
England. They continue to be involved, although local people also
play a key part in the running of the organisation.
"We have 1,800 families, or 5,000 people, registered,"
said Juso Kadric. Both Kadric and Ljubica Niksic have devoted
themselves to the mission. They explained that they "cover
all social problems" and in doing so they provide people
with food (staples and cooked meals), care for the elderly, provide
hot showers, medicine and act as a hospice for the terminally
"It would be impossible without the encouragement from the
private person, because no government or church is involved (all
donations) are through private people," said Kadric.
Sgt. Scott Baird, the UK NSE chief clerk, was quick to point out
that many nationalities are involved in supporting the mission.
The British contribution has been wide and varied, however, charity
concerts have been held as well as collections of goods. These
went towards paying the mission's heating, electricity and fuel
"With the boxes received we are preparing packages for (Christmas),
for the mothers and children, all will be shared, everyone will
get something. No child who comes here will be turned away,"
"(The collection) was hard work, but it was worth it to see
everyone smiling. The kids were great, of all ages, boys and girls,
they don't have much but they are still fine and are all happy
enough," said Hill.
As the soldiers left, the children were still smiling as they
waved them away. Kadric thanked all those involved in the collection
and wished all "A blessed and peaceful Christmas and Happy
Nations of SFOR: UK