A globe-trotting charity crusader has sent out an urgent rallying call to the Glossop community as he steps up his bold mission of hope in poverty-stricken Bosnia. Big-hearted Phill Booth, of Chapel Street in Glossop, has clocked up hundreds of air miles travelling from his High Peak home to bring renewed optimism to families continuing to battle against adversity in the once war-ravaged nation.
A host of lives - both young and old - have already been touched by the superhuman efforts of the one-man charity organisation and now Phill is looking for more willing recruits to join the cause. While Phill has lost none of his enthusiasm and determination to succeed, the heavy price of his epic travels to and from the Balkans to maintain the English Effort Against Poverty (EETEP) is taking its financial toll - giving local people a chance to step in and make a big difference as we approach a New Year. Phill just got back from another life-changing visit to his new-found friends across the world, told the Chronicle: “Funding these trips to Bosnia is not easy. During my last visit I have been replacing windows, doors and plastering for a family in Cracanica, we took a bathroom suite to a family in Dzakola and delivered food parcels to a further four families.
“With a little help we can do great work it all comes down to money. We are in desperate need of fundraisers and sponsors. We will continue our work in Bosnia regardless as these things need to be done but it would be nice not having to pull my credit out every time we have a problem to solve.”
The huge benefits of support in Phill's fundraising quest was never more evident than in the tears of happiness which streamed down the face of a Bosnian mother given a vital gift in time for Christmas. Phill's charity work has given fresh hope to mum Ajisa, Adem and their 20-year-old daughter Merima, who suffers from Downs Syndrome, through the delivery of a brand-new mobility scooter. Ajisa, Adem and Merima have renewed hope thanks to their help. What may seem an every-day purchase for those in need of such an item on home shores is an expense far beyond the reaches of those like Merima in her homeland of the Republika Serbska.
The generosity of an Audenshaw wheelchair proprietor has made their dreams come true and is a shining example of the major effect that donations from Glossop, the rest of the High Peak and beyond can have. Phill explains: “Thanks to the kind donation of a mobility scooter from Peter Mitchell of the wheelchair centre in Audenshaw, the EETEP Aid organisation have been able to bring some independence to a young lady in Bosnia.
“I delivered the scooter last week to a Downs Syndrome lady called Merima who lives in Doboj Republika Serbska Bosnia. Merima and her family are already benefitting from the Bosnian sponsor fund that EETEP has set up, and with the delivery of this scooter Ajisa was overjoyed and ended up in tears. “Where they live it is all uphill from town and Ajisa, Merima's mother, is not able to push Merima up the hills. This means that Merima, now 20-years-old, spent most of her time in their small poverty stricken home.
“By chance a few weeks ago I was passing the wheelchair centre in Audenshaw so I called in for advice from Peter and, when we got talking about the plight of Merima, Peter was eager to help. Within a week he had phoned me up to say he had got a scooter for Merima, I couldn't believe it. Without Peter's donation Merima would still be stuck in that house.”
In Ajisa's own words: The work of Phill and Peter was certainly noticed by Merima's mother Ajisa, who penned a letter of heartfelt thanks to the man who had given her a much-needed helping hand. Phill adds: “Ajisa also wrote Peter a letter. I have had it translated and left in Ajisa's own words:
“Respectful mister, I feel the need and duty to tell you how much I am grateful for your understanding and gift donation of the children's-adult mobility scooter. About that mobility scooter it was like a dream to use, since I found out that my daughter Merima borned 05-03-1985 years, have a bad heart illness and lung hypertension and some more heart illness from which she grown up she have become more difficult. “We noticed that since she started to walk, she need have operation on heart, that is what doctors have told us from Beograd Sarajevo, Ljubijana and Kamenica. We also saw a specialist in Doboj. “My girl have Downs Syndrome and this is what do it worse condition, I need to tell you that mister Phill Booth really helps us on this our difficult situation, living here is very hard and sometimes is more than I can stand. I spent the whole war here in Doboj. “Mister Phill inside have so much goodness he have big heart that ordinary words cannot describe you, life here in BIH is not simple it is complicated here after the war, war is so very cruel, difficult and sad, the war has left prints on most people. My husband Adem also is not well he have two tumors on brain and he condition worries me, I am always fighting and how I can stand this problems god only knows. May you have lots of happiness in your life and favour, thank you, regards from my heart to you.
“Family Smajlovic Adem wife Ajisa and daughter Merima Doboj.”
They are words that keep Phill strong in his relentless pursuit to end poverty in Bosnia and it is hoped that will give others inspiration to give their help in 2006.
Story by Chris Maxwell - with thanks to the Glossop Chronicle Newspaper for granting permission to reprint this article. If anybody would like to help Phill or would like more information on EETEP Aid organisation they can contact him on 07766657426 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.