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Germans build relations, playground for people in Foca

By Sgt. Michael Maddox
First published in
SFOR Informer #95, August 30, 2000

Foca - It was a day of celebration Aug. 17 for both the citizens of Foca and the German soldiers who have been working in the town to bring about a few changes. As a result, a new playground was built for kindergarten students at the Uncle John Dragon School in Foca, and five CIMIC houses were completed in the town.
The occasion was marked with a visit by local and German officials. One of those visitors was Col. Guenter Engel, the commander of the German Battle Group.
Engel kicked off the first ceremony of the day at the school with a few remarks. He said both of the events of the day were worthy of celebration.
"These events show us a common direction and emphasis that all efforts must be taken to ensure peace," he said. "This point is the return of refugees, but this is not the only thing that matters. My soldiers and I would like to convey this message by the way of the symbolic gesture at the kindergarten. The motto, 'The future belongs to our children' applies all over the world."
Capt. Markus Vollman, the playground project officer for the 5th Company based in Filipovici, said he and his soldiers are glad they can do something to make the children's lives a little better.
"We had heard that it was necessary to build something for the children here. My staff thought there was a possibility to help," he said. "Col. Engel helped by providing 3,000 DM from his hometown of Sigmaringen. With my information and his funds we were able to help."
Vollman added, the project, which took three weeks to complete, was a labour of love.
All of the equipment made of wood was made by soldiers of my company. They only bought the wood, made it smooth and built all of the equipment. Everything is handmade," he said. "I hope the children will have a lot of fun with these things.
"I think it's a good idea to help the children because they are the future of this country," said Vollman. "They must understand that we are not here to occupy, we want to fight with them against misery in their country."
The work done by the soldiers overwhelming Dobrica Radovic, the director of the Uncle John Dragon School.
"I am very happy for all of my children now that they have a place to play. I can't say how glad I am in one word. I hope it helps all of the children have a more bright future," she said.
Later in the day, the five new CIMIC houses were dedicated during a ceremony that was attended by Maj. Gen. Robert Meille, MND-SE commander.
Lt. Col. Wolf Von Krause, deputy commander for the German CIMIC unit, said he thinks the CIMIC houses are a step in the right direction to let the residents of Foca know that SFOR is still actively working to help refugees return.
"This is one practical effort that you can actually see. Security keeps the situation calm and secure, but for the people living here, reconstruction is a visible effort," he said.
The five houses will have a ripple effect on the community, said 1Lt. Heiko Ramisch, project officer for CIMIC houses.
"For this project, we have five houses. We reconstructed these houses for 50 persons returning here next week," he explained.
He added that he is glad to be able to help the people of Foca.

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: Germany