Kosevo Hospital

Maj. Pellumb Elezi
First published in
SFOR Informer#152, November 21, 2002

On Nov. 5 a group of SFOR soldiers from Camp Butmir paid a humanitarian aid visit to the paediatric clinic ( Pedijatrijska klinika) of Kosevo Hospital. The purpose of the visit was to distribute gifts, and much needed supplies to the children. The Oncology Ward at Kosevo Hospital, downtown Sarajevo, has 22 special children that are suffering from terminal cancer and leukaemia. Each of these children has a military "sponsor" that brings them special gifts and the priceless gift of sharing time together.

Camp Butmir - Nov. 5 it was a cold day. The group started at 9:15 a.m. when they left Camp Butmir by their cars. Thirty minutes later they arrived at the Kosevo Hospital. As the SFOR soldiers stepped out of their cars a crowd of people, hospital's patients, doctors, nurses and visitors greeted them. Soon both groups were smiling, laughing and shaking hands. Base Support Battalion American Chaplain (Maj.) John Hamilton and friends delivered several cases of milk, juices, and boxes of pampers, anti-bacterial soap, shampoo, baby food, cleaning supplies, etc. "These are small things, but can make a significant difference to surviving babies. The Canadian Military combined forces to make a Multinational effort to deliver Humanitarian Aid and visit the children," said Hamilton.
Look at them, they are friends
The head-nurse Olga Stancic briefed the soldiers on the clinic. First of all, she expressed her gratitude for their aid. "It's a pleasure when see that in the struggle of life we have the help of SFOR soldiers, thank you, thank you, thank you, " she said.
There were a lot of people in the clinic and all of them were looking at the soldiers with a great respect. The parents of the sick children when saw the SFOR soldiers told their children 'Vidi, oni su prijatelji' (Look at them, they are friends). At that time, some of the soldiers walked into some rooms and delivered a lot of dolls and toys. As SFOR soldiers handed out them, they were greeted by handshakes and hugs. The reaction of the kids was really fantastic. It was something really special for them, and it was special that it was SFOR soldiers doing it. Having seen these children the soldiers wished to do more and more. That activity was like a small flower that needs lots of water and sun to make it grow further and not to dry out.
Lack of disinfecting materials
The clinic provides full time care. Patients come from all Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). "The problem for all hospitals in BiH is that they are basically under-funded and the amount of money coming to them is not enough to cover even 50% of needs. As result, children and babies are suffering from and even dying because of problems cased by lack of basic disinfecting materials. The infection rate is several times higher than that in any hospital in the western countries," said Hamilton, which led the operation. "Every day, besides the children that are hospitalised, we cure in average 18 others. But our government is not in a position to do more and the hospital cannot get the proper funding for improving situation," explained Stancic.

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: US

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Photos: Tech. Sgt. Andy Dunaway

An SFOR soldier delivering gifts.

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Chaplain Hamilton spends time with the children.