Dear friends, I'd like to keep everybody up to date and I intend writing updates on a regular basis. The first thing I'd like to talk about is the Bosnian sponsor fund that's now up and running. An account has been set up in England to collect payments and so far we are sponsoring a 72-year-old lady called Ramza and a family who have a Down's Syndrome daughter called Merima.
Ramza is a lady who lives alone in a small run-down house on the edge of town. She keeps goats and generates some income from these. We've sponsors paying via standing order so if there's anybody out there able to spare £3 per month for Ramza it'd be a great help. In the last few months we've had her roof removed, repaired and refitted and new plumbing and taps have also been fitted to her bathroom. We've also bought her a cooker and fridge as she didn't have anything to cook on.
The shrapnel damage and bullet holes in the front of her house have now been repaired and rendered up. Some electrical repairs have also been made so all her lights now work. Before I left this time I bought her a bed settee as she'd nothing to sleep on. As for future help, Ramza needs a good quality sleeping bag for the winter (a time of the year there which can see temperatures drop to -20℃). Argos sell these so I'll take one with me next time. Also she'll need a small carpet to cover the concrete floor, this'll help her to keep warm. The total cost of the work carried out is 2,250 km (£803).
Our second family benefiting from the sponsor fund is Ajisa, Adem, and their Down's Syndrome daughter Merima (now 20-years-old). This family are Muslims living in the Republika Serbska Bosnia. When we met them they had many problems that needed to be addressed before any sponsorship would help. Debt was their main problem - Ajisa looked like she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
Her debts were out of control and these were not purchasing debts, they were for life essentials such as water, coal, electricity and rent. On an insufficiently small pension they were never going to survive. After giving it some thought, I got out my credit card and paid them off a total of 3,216 km (£1,148). I'm hoping someone in the UK will help us out with this bill. We then told her we'll get her sponsorship, so again if anybody can spare a few pounds a month we would be very grateful.
Ongoing work is the house building project for Mustafa. With help from Bosnians (who've given us days and days of free labour) the small home we want to build for Mustafa is now taking shape. Within a week or two we hope to have the roof on, but as usual funding the project has been difficult. The cost now stands at 4,860 km (£1,735). This is a pilot project so the total cost for completion is unknown. We do hope to build similar small dwellings in the future however, so the total cost will need to be low.
The last family we helped before we left live in Croatia also needed a cooker and fridge. The cooker they'd had for the last five years had only one ring working so feeding the family was a big job. We bought a cooker and fridge in Bosnia for a total of 750 km (£267) but customs officials on the Croatian border wouldn't let us through the border with them (that was until we put 50 km in the officials top pocket, then we were allowed through…). Corruption is everywhere. Anyhow, two hours later John and Marie had their new cooker and fridge so everything worked out in the end. With all that's happening at the moment funding is the main problem. I know of a house belonging to a family in Bosnia that needs a new roof, windows and doors before the winter. It's September now and winter isn't that far away, so can it be done in time? I don't know but we are going to try!