Here’s an open report on the activities of Kids In Desperate Situations (KIDS) in Bosnia.



A.        Telcon Chesters/Ferguson of 21 Feb 96.

1.         There follows a full report on my humanitarian activities since November 1995.  The document is fairly comprehensive as Colonel Bauer’s requirements were not made clear in Reference A.    

2.         Please find below information on the Non-Governmental Organisation, ‘Kids in Desperate Situations’(KIDS). I hope you will find it interesting.

3.         The volunteers working for KIDS are:

Staff Sergeant Vic Ferguson AGC(SPS)

Miss Marina Bowder  (Sarajevo regional office Tel:  00387 71 443233)

Mr Armin Alagic (Bosnian) (Sarajevo regional office)

4.         Background.   Whilst in Sarajevo on a six month operational tour which began on 22 November 1995 Staff Sergeant Ferguson met an 11 year old girl called Hurmija Mujic in Sarajevo’s Kosevo hospital.  Hurmija had been paralysed by shell fragments embedded in her spine.  She is from Srebrenica, which fell under tragic circumstances in the summer of 1995.  Her Father and two older brothers have been missing, presumed dead, since July 1995.  By March 1996 sufficient funds had been raised, through public appeals and from the generosity of soldiers and their families, to fund the evacuation of Hurmija and her mother, twin sister (who was also injured) and their younger sister.  Logistics were put in place also for the evacuation of three other families, from differing ethnic backgrounds, from Tuzla, East and West Mostar.

KIDS was born out of this experience in May 1996, to carry on the work started by Staff Sergeant Ferguson in a more formal way and with broader outreach possibilities.

5.         Mission Statement.   Kids in Desperate Situations (KIDS) is a Sarajevo-based mission of  local and international volunteers connected by their interest in helping children affected by war.  These children have urgent medical, educational or material needs which remain unaddressed by the international community and are outside the sphere of local humanitarian activities.  KIDS plans to tackle one major project at a time, while gathering information on others.  This ensures that each project is completed in the shortest time frame, promoting efficiency.

6.         KIDS’ principle aim is to continue raising funds for, and giving assistance to, individual children whose lives can be saved by prompt medical evacuation.  KIDS has carried on this work in co-operation with Child Advocacy International (CAI), a UK Registered Charity (No 1048781), by giving direct support to the staff of CAI by funding travel, subsistence and treatment costs for children selected for consideration by KIDS and any other expenses attendant to the evacuation and/or medical care for the selected children.   Each case is considered by CAI staff and advice given on the benefit for the child to be gained by their evacuation.

7.         In addition to medical evacuations KIDS have undertaken such projects as repairing facilities for children, obtaining equipment for schools and orphanages, distributing clothing, toys and other  materials.  KIDS is also running projects to procure computers and equipment necessary for educational purposes and for international child-to-child E-mail communication worldwide.  Together with gifts of material and educational aid these projects are implemented in schools and institutions which lie outside the popular aid circuits and are normally carried out using materials donated by members of the international public.

8.         The following will give you an idea of what has been achieved in the last 15 months:

Hurmija and her family returned to their home in Sarajevo in July 1996.  Whilst in UK Hurmija received a full assessment of her injuries and, unfortunately, a miracle operation to help her walk was not possible.  She received extensive rehabilitation and can now walk with the aid of her gait orthosis.  Both Hurmija and her family received psychiatric counseling and the girls all went to school whilst in the United Kingdom, and can now speak some English.

Hurmija is at home full-time and now attends school in Sarajevo with her sisters, an achievement in itself after spending almost 2 years in a hospital bed.  The family live in a third floor apartment.  KIDS is trying very hard to obtain ground floor accommodation in order that Hurmija can leave their home under her own steam.

KIDS staff in Sarajevo continue to visit Hurmija regularly and provide anything that she needs, including catheters and drugs which were delivered by hand from the United Kingdom to Sarajevo recently. She receives regular physiotherapy from an Italian NGO based in Sarajevo.

Of the other 3 children evacuated in March 1996, Elvis and Adnan (Ado), both had successful heart surgery and are fit, healthy and back in Bosnia looking forward to lives that they would not have had otherwise.  Unfortunately, Ivo from West Mostar proved incurable and returned home four weeks after the evacuation.  The most recent evacuations were those of Medina Karic and baby SALKICA.   Medina, a two year old girl from Zenica was suffering from congenital heart disease and would most certainly have died if left in Bosnia.  She was evacuated to Priory Hospital in Birmingham on 27 August 1996.  The operation (key-hole surgery on her heart, one of the earliest cases for this operation to have been performed) was successful.  Medina is now fully recovered and her mother, Tenzila, who was extremely anxious about the operation is now happy and relaxed.  They returned to Bosnia in September 1996.  The latest, and most impressive achievement, was the evacuation of a baby boy born in a village near Sarajevo with transposition of the great arteries.  The baby was 9 days old when the help of KIDS was requested by the mother.  Details were faxed from the Sarajevo office to Staff Sergeant Ferguson in Vicenza, Italy.  The baby, who was not yet even named by his parents (family name SALKICA) was given six days to live before being switched off life support.  Staff Sergeant Ferguson spent 4 days without sleep pleading for help to save the baby’s life.  Within 48 hours a place was secured in the San Donato Milanese hospital in Milan (the normal charge of 30 million IT Lire was waived by the hospital) and after discussing the problems of moving an unnamed baby (who was not on a passport) into Italy with Ambassador Pennarola in Sarajevo it was agreed the baby would be allowed to travel.  Next came the problem of moving the desperately ill child.  Brigadier General Mariani of 5th Allied Tactical Air Force was approached by Staff Sergeant Ferguson and within 24 hours the Italian Ministry of Defence in Rome agreed to provide an aircraft to transport the child.  A team of surgeons were picked up from Milan and collected the baby from a hospital in Slovenia, returning to Milan on 16 November 1996.  Ironically, Staff Sergeant Ferguson had personal problems of his own and on 17 November received multiple serious injuries whilst returning to the United Kingdom on compassionate leave.  Baby SALKICA was operated on successfully and returned to Bosnia after making an encouraging recovery.  Unfortunately he suffered a relapse and died in February 1997.

9.         KIDS have also evaluated three other children that need evacuation.  3 year old Ema, 5 year old Suada & 10 year old Husein; each have congenital heart disease.  Each of these children need life-saving treatment urgently.

10.       KIDS continues to support schools and kindergartens, orphanages, institutes for the blind, mental and physically handicapped in Bosnia and Croatia with material aid, food, educational supplies and computers. KIDS is also trying to help set up a paraplegic basketball team in Sarajevo, an effort that will require equipment, specialized wheelchairs, sports strip, balls, and nets to be procured.

11.       KIDS is also trying to raise funds to help a family with two boys rebuild their home in Sarajevo.  A friend of theirs drove all the way to Vicenza, Italy to find Staff Sergeant Ferguson to ask for help after hearing about him from Hurmija’s school teachers.  DM 10,000 is needed to get them started.  They will suffer badly as the harsh winter sets in Sarajevo.  A copy of the families initial plea for help is attached.

12.       Since his release from hospital (and during my rehabilitation) Ssgt Ferguson has continued with charity work.  He is currently working on a voluntary basis with a charity called Children in Crisis (No 1020488).  The programme in Leeds is aimed at educating young children about drugs, a major problem in recent years all over Europe.  He is also working with a major international business woman, who has asked to remain anonymous.  The project proposal details a £800,000 project to equip Sarajevo’s Kosevo hospital with Intensive care and high dependency beds in the children’s unit.  The project has been approved by the Minister for Health in Sarajevo and the Director of Kosevo hospital and will utilize staff and expertise from Birmingham Children’s hospital.  The project has been extremely well researched by professional medical experts from Child Advocacy International, and now only requires funding.  Other projects include building safe play areas for children in mined areas and the provision of safe water supplies.  These projects are being carried out in co-operation with Children in Crisis.

13.       You can see from the above information that KIDS have achieved an awful lot to help these children over the last 15 months.  The range of activities is diverse, but my staff see a need, and we try to help wherever we can.  I now have a network of family, friends, servicemen and their families, clubs, schools and institutes all over Europe helping to raise funds for KIDS.

14.       The various stories have been covered by TV networks such as CNN, BBC, ITV, RAI Uno (Italy), TV Hayat (Bosnia), Studio 99 (Bosnia), SSVC, Combat camera (US) and a film crew were commissioned by the British Foreign office to produce a programme called ‘UK Today’ which was shown on 250 networks in 100 countries worldwide.  Stories were published in more than 50 newspapers (many of them National), resulting in funds being received from such places as UK (including Northern Ireland), Germany, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Cyprus, America and even Japan.

15.       I am able to give more detailed information on specific projects in schools, kindergartens, refugee camps etc. if required.  I also have some press cuttings should you think they will be useful.  You can appreciate the time taken to produce this report (one handed due to my injuries!).  I hope it will be of use.




Director Kids in Despreate Situations





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