Connecting With Community: Soldiers From Glamoc Help Local Schools

Capt. Steve Hawken
First published in
SFOR Informer#171, June, 2004

Sometimes a tour can just be tour. Get in, do your time, and go home. This was certainly not the case for many of the British and Canadian soldiers stationed at the Forward Storage Site (FSS) in Glamoc, Bosnia Herzegovina.

Over the past six months, British Army Corporal Scott Sherrett and Canadian Corporal Amanda Vogler both with FSS Range Control, have spent a lot of their spare time, not preparing to go home, but rather helping to raise some much needed money for the local school kids in Glamoc.
The first stop of the day was to the local kindergarten where, amidst the children, Cpls Sherrett and Vogler presented the kindergarten's head teacher, Sister Janja Martina Katovic, with a cash donation of 750 Euros to be used for some of the school's ongoing restoration projects.
"It's a lot of money," said Sister Katovic. "We are going to install shutters on the windows of the school because during the summer it gets too hot for the kids."
With more generosity to come, the SFOR soldiers were off to the local secondary school to meet with the principle and present him with a new television and video cassette recorder. "We just got them at the right time that we need them because providing both suitable facilities and equipment have been a challenge in the past," said Jerolim Bakovic. "Every small bit helps, even those things we take for granted, this new equipment will make it a lot easier for both the staff and the students."
The reason this particular donation, and indeed the entire day was special, was that the money that was presented came from the extra efforts of the SFOR soldiers stationed at FSS on the outskirts of Glamoc.
"All of the fundraising activities were done on the soldiers spare time," said the Officer Commanding FSS, Capt David Barlow. "One of the questions they asked themselves was how they were going to raise some money and they came up with some creative ways."
Some of these creative ways included charging admission to special mess events, paying to swap ranks for a day, as well as auctioning off a few collector sports items.
"We spoke with a number of Canadian and British sports teams and ask them if they could send us a few items to auction off," said Cpl Amy Volger. "Some of the British football teams sent in signed shirts and other memorabilia which we auctioned on BFBS and raised a great deal of money."
Donating money and gifts weren't the only things the soldiers provided for the kids. Cpl Sherrett spent a lot of his spare time at the secondary school painting educational murals on the walls for the students. According to Sherrett it was just the right thing to do. "I walked straight in, saw bare space on the wall and I just knew I could do some work," said Sherrett. "I'd do about five or six hours a day and every time I would take a step back and say 'ya that's cool'." In fact he was such a novelty for the students that an area needed to be cordoned off for him to work.
The relationship between the students and teachers of Glamoc and the troops stationed at FSS is not a new one. "Our relationship with the SFOR soldiers has been very good," said Sister Katovic. "They often come down with donations for the children and have also helped to fix things around the school."
According to the two soldiers from FSS Glamoc it was something they liked doing. "I enjoyed doing it," says Cpl Volger "I originally just went out to help with some of the families because most of them are too old to work or they live in the middle of nowhere and are completely isolated. The satisfaction you get from helping someone through a tough time is just great. My only regret is that I wish we could have done more for them."
Cpl Sherrett agrees, "I wish we could be here a little bit longer. This is the first time I've done anything like this, and actually, I really enjoyed it. I feel like the tour has been more worthwhile and when I do get back to Germany I would like to take it up again."

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Corporal Scott Sherrett and Corporal Amanda Vogler with children from the Glamoc Kindergarden.

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Corporal Scott Sherrett and Corporal Amanda Vogler hand over the money to Sister Janja Martina Katovic of the Glamoc Kindergarden.

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Coporal Scott Sherrett meets the children from Glamoc Kindergarden.