Travel log Bosnia – visit schools in Boljanic and Suho Polje

Finally it was Saturday 21st of October 2017. From Eindhoven Airport we left for Tuzla in Bosnia to visit the primary schools in Boljanic and Suho Polje. It is crucial to determine if our projects in Romania and Bosnia are done according our standards and if authorities kept their promises.

Tuzla airport is about 70 km from the schools and our temporary home base Doboj.
Great to be picked up from the airport by your fellow board member Tom Visser and his wife Ljubica. They not only brought me to the project sites but took care of me and supported me also during the days to come!

Travelling 70 km in Bosnia is not easy and swift (no highways) so we arrived in the early evening in our apartment in Doboj. After a small diner the evening came soon at its end.

For Sunday we had an invitation form the installer who made the installations in both schools. It was a warm welcome. Typically for Bosnia we were welcomed with a glass of Rakia and a delicious diner for all guests. The mechanics, engineer, some teachers and other people who cooperated in one or another way were invited. It was a very nice afternoon with traditional songs at the end.

The next day we went to the project sites for inspection. First Suho Polje. The wood and coal burning boiler and the radiators (which were saved from the flood) worked well and we could see with our very own eyes that the installer did a great job. Apart from some missing insulation on a pipe we could not find any drawbacks. What personally impressed me was the obsolete state of the toilets for teachers and pupils some 50 meters from the school building. This is something we can not imagine in the Netherlands.
The second school was in Boljanic. Also in Boljanice the craftsmanship of the installer was visible. In this case the radiators were connected to a very big and impressive boiler that already had been donated in 2008 by our foundation. It was warm en hard to imagine that only one year ago in this school children worked and studied in the freezing cold. The children expressed their gratitude by performing plays, songs and folkloristic dance. Tom even heard the mentioning my name . Finally the director of the school handed to Tom and myself a bottle of traditional drink with our pictures on it. Together with the whole teachers team of Boljanic we ended this inspection visit with a nice diner and - of course - a glass of Rakia!

After being “dropped off” on Tuzla airport next day, I had some time to reflect my first visit to Bosnia. It was foremost very impressive certainly if you compare the situation in Bosnia with the Dutch schools. How fortunate we all are en how much beautiful things we can achieve as foundation Warmth for the Children, although it is just on a very small scale. Before I knew I arrived at Eindhoven Airport and with a very good and satisfactory feeling I could finally drive a highway again.

Willem Siebelink.