Soldier raises money for village school

Staff Sgt. Lisa M. Simpson
First published in
SFOR Informer#138, May 9, 2002

The town of Olovo is on the border between MND-SE and MND-N. In fact, when you travel the SFOR route between Sarajevo and Tuzla you will drive through it. If you make the turn into the town and follow the windy path, you will come to the little village Ocevlja.

Ocevlja - Due to the village's location between Canton Sarajevo and Canton Tuzla, the village, which was home to Bosniacs, Bosnian-Croats and Bosnian-Serb before the war, was often overlooked for humanitarian aid. The village schools are in disrepair, the teachers do not have adequate supplies and the children need a healthy environment to learn.
Pencils and pens
HQ SFOR CIMIC team members Capt. Steven Chung and "Z," Zoran Cvetkovic, a translator, in conjunction with Sgt. Hudson Berry, Sgt. First Class Able Arabello and Chaplain (Maj.) John Hamilton, joined Lt. Col. Bill Johnson to donate money and supplies to the schools. Lt. John Ringquist donated several boxes of clothing for the school children.
Johnson, who spearheaded the effort, managed to collect 7,000 KM that was divided between two of the village schools.
The children carried into the school boxes filled with school supplies such as pens, pencils, crayons, art supplies, templates, compasses, and notebooks. Across the street, Hamilton and Berry passed out candy to the children who swarmed around them like bees on a flower. Some of the students played a spontaneous game of football with the SFOR soldiers, while, inside an adjacent building, the children played volleyball.
Water system
Of most dire need to the schools and the village is the repair of the water system. The main water distribution box is located just to the left of the school. The uncovered, in-ground cement square houses the four-inch supply line which has feeder pipes that send water to the neighbouring villages in Olovo.
"The box does not have an anti-backflush valve," said Johnson. "When the water pressure in the main line drops, the water in the lines going to the houses seeps back into the main line, possibly contaminating it.
“Traces of Hepatitis have been detected in the water. Another problem is that if any of the other lines break, the water pressure to everyone drops to almost zero immediately. This could be critical if it failed while the village was fighting a fire, for example."
The donated money will be used to fix the pipes. Upon receipt of the money, the school's district leader, Avdo Hasansbahic’, presented Johnson with a memorandum of agreement, stating that the money received would be used for the water system. The principal thanked Johnson and his team profusely.
"What I am doing for these people, I did on my own," Johnson said. "All of the co-ordinations were done in my off time and the money raised came from my own pocket and the donations of others. But none of this would have been possible without the help of Lt. Ringquist, Chaplain Hamilton and his assistant, Steven Chung and Zoran Cvetkovic who is so much more than just a 'translator'. I could not have done this without them."

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: US
Humanitarian Aid

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Photos: PO Susan Rose

Chaplain (Maj.) John Hamilton passes out candy to the children.

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Lt. Col. Bill Johnson points to the town's water system. The water contains traces of Hepatitis.

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The school district leader, Avdo Hasansbahic’ explains plans for rebuilding the school grounds.

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The children carried the supplies into the school.