Dear friends, well I've just got back from another trip to Bosnia. Although this trip went well, funding (as usual) was our main problem. Now I know I say this all the time, but I really do need help. If there's anybody who can help with fundraising please get in touch. I spent the first part of the trip in Sarajevo working with Phoenix, a Yorkshire-based charity. Sarah Greenwood (Development Officer for Phoenix) organised meetings for me with two Bosnian groups and we visited the RVA association but in the end they were unable to help due to the sheer scale of the problems. We also had a meeting with a lady called Alisa who runs the Concentration Camp Survivors Network.
Moving on, we'd like to thank everybody who donated money to Mirsad's family. Mirsad was tragically killed in a building accident and was an excellent, honest builder who'd done work for us in the past. We were looking forward to working together a lot in the future. His wife, still coming to terms with his death, has been very busy planting crops at their nearby home to keep his family going. We'd like to take a new bike over for his son (he's five years old and the spitting image of his dad) so if anybody can help us with this we would be most grateful.
Alisa has asked us to make up food packages and hygiene packs for 50 of their members most in need. Over the next few weeks we'll be looking into the best way of delivering these packs. We think it'd probably be easier to buy all the necessary items in Bosnia, then deliver them directly to the people with Alisa's help. Each pack will cost approximately £10 so this work will help a lot of people without breaking the bank.
We visited Ramiz Ahmedbasic in Dzakola to discuss the best way we could help repair his home. Due to lack of funding (typical), we talked with Ramiz and he said that if we could just supply the materials that he and his friends would be able to do the work. I would've preferred to get the builders in but with the funds we have it seemed to be the best option. After some time spent finding the materials we had three trucks deliver the necessary items to Ramiz, and he assured me the work would be done by the time I visited again. So hopefully I'll be able to get some photographs on my next visit.
The following day we called to see how Mustafa was getting on in the small home we built for him last year. I was impressed. He'd planted a small garden with flowers around two sides of the house and erected a fence so his neighbour can keep sheep in a small patch of land he owns. He now rents this piece out and generates some income from it. It's hard to believe this was the same man I'd met in June last year; he looks so much better in his health and his outlook on life. I left him some money as he wanted to start buying and selling again. He told me he'd had experience in the market place and with a bit of help he could build up his own pitch. I had to give the man a chance - he was so enthusiastic. In time I think he could be self-sufficient again. We still need to build an outside toilet with a septic tank so as soon as funds become available this is one of our main priorities.
Our next project took us to Lukavac and the home of Samir Hadzic. With the help of Linda (from Glossop) we've been able to sponsor Samir. We have at last managed to open a bank account in Bosnia for Samir, as this is something we've not been able to do in the past. It shows how the country is trying to catch up with the rest of Europe. We set up a standing order contract for 28 months and this will pay directly into Samir's account on the first of each month, until he turns eighteen. Samir, who’s lost both parents, lives with his stepmother in a block of flats. He's not in good health so this'll help provide medication and better quality of food for him. Thank you very much Linda.
During my stay, we met up with Rod Howat who took me to a small village called Kuljen. Here we met Hasib Suljic, a married father of four and a landmine victim. Hasib explained to me what happened: During the Balkan's war he was out in the woods near his home collecting firewood. Shots rattled out and he ran through the woods trying to escape. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to Hasib, he ran straight into a mine field and stood on a landmine that blew off his left leg below the knee. As he lay bleeding, his friend heard his screams and rescued him (at great danger to himself).
Hasib likes to dance and was a dance champion in Bosnia before the war. It was for this reason that he was given a false leg by the hospital. The problem he now faces is that his leg is worn out and the hospital is unable to help him. He has blisters on his leg and finds walking difficult and very painful. With the help of Rod Howat we took him to Otto Bock in Sarajevo. Otto Bock is a German company who make prosthesis. They are a reputable company who do a great job. They quoted the price of 2,622 km (£974) so we'll have to find the money for this.
Hasib and his wife Sadeta have four children, live in extremely poor conditions and receive a tiny monthly pension. Some Bosnian organisations are helping them to build a small home approximately 6x3 m. and have supplied them with concrete and blocks. EETEP intend supplying the roof at a cost of 1,000 km (£370). This is a nice family who just needs a helping hand. Of the 18 children living in this village only two are in school and these two are Hasib's. He understands their best chance for a future is through education. He works everyday trying to improve his family's chances. He doesn't smoke, doesn't drink and his children and home are kept clean. He impressed me with his determination to live a better life against all odds and we really feel he deserves some help.
The problem we are facing at the moment is funding. Every week we hear about another family who need our help. Sometimes this help is just a wheelchair or some clothes and shoes for children. Not everything we do costs a fortune. If we had a few people willing to do a bit of fundraising we could do so much more. Please, if there is anything you can do to help please contact us. Thank you for reading.