Bosnian students benefit from major's good deed
TUZLA, Bosnia and Herzegovina — Most of the U.S. troops on a six-month peacekeeping mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina work hard on leaving the country in better shape than when they arrived.
But some of them go an extra mile to make personal contributions. Take, for example, Maj. Lauren Muglia of the Pennsylvania National Guard.
When Muglia left home, her sister, Carolyn, a second-grade teacher at Watchung Elementary School in Middlesex, N.J., said she wanted to help.
Carolyn thought that she and her students could collect money, buy school supplies and, with the assistance of her sister, give them to Bosnian elementary school pupils.
But Muglia, the deputy political adviser of Multinational Brigade North and a member of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 28th Infantry Division, suggested that Carolyn send her the collected money and she would buy supplies in Bosnia to save on postage. She then consulted with her interpreter, Ed Nukic, about the best way to use the money.
Nukic said that many of the books on the mandatory school reading list that his fourth-grade son uses are in poor condition and have entire chapters missing.
Many had been printed in the 1960s, the same decade the school was built. And the school, like most in the area, receives very little help from the local ministry of education.
Muglia saw the library for herself before passing on the suggestion to her sister. “They really are in a bad shape,” she said of the books.
So Carolyn Muglia’s second-graders organized a bake sale and raised $200. Their parents, the school faculty and Muglia sisters added $150.
On Wednesday, Lauren Muglia delivered 31 new books to Tusanj Elementary School in Tuzla, a school with more than 1,100 first- to eight-grade students. She plans to soon buy more to bring the total to 50.
“Books are a lasting contribution, a gift that keeps on giving,” Muglia said.
The same day Muglia delivered the books, Sgt. 1st Class Gerry Ortiz, also of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 28th Infantry Division, was supposed to visit Modrac Elementary School, outside Tuzla, and deliver school supplies sent to him from home.
In the past, Ortiz and fellow soldiers collected their own money and personally installed two toilets at the school.
The snow-covered roads postponed his visit Wednesday, but Ortiz hopes to make it to the school this weekend.