Kosovo schools, clinics to get some of Army's excess
September 29, 2003
CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo — In a nearby doctor’s office there is little more than a cabinet in the corner and a wooden desk for an examining table.
At the schools, the children sit on the floor and share pencils.
But soon four medical clinics and four schools in Kosovo will receive $70,000 worth of U.S. Army European Command excess property due to base closures and realignments.
Capt. Joel Smith, S-3 for the 415th Civil Affairs Battalion, from the Pennsylvania National Guard, said all he had to do was ask. Smith said he went to the EUCOM Web site and filled out a request form, and then got some backing from the U.S. Embassy Headquarters in Pristina, Kosovo.
That’s when everything fell into place, he said.
EUCOM responded by sending two truckloads of goods, shipped from warehouses in Würzburg, Germany, to Camp Bondsteel. From there, Smith will take the shipment to four different cities, providing goods to ethnic Albanians, Serbians and Romas living within Kosovo.
For the schools, the goods range from chalkboards to tricycles, while the clinics will receive everything from bedding materials, medical supplies and refrigerators.
“There’s so much to this,” Smith said. “I started this thinking it was something I could do in my spare time, but now it’s taken a whole new life form.
“I have to fill out requests for everything needed to make this work. I have to ask for a tent to store the stuff, ask for a fork lift guy to help unload it,” he said, “and now I have to figure out how I’m going to get this stuff out to the towns.”
So far, it’s taken a lot of favors.
“This has a little bit of everybody in it,” Smith said. “It’s not just a civil affairs thing.”
Smith plans on asking Brown and Root contractors to help by providing vehicles to deliver goods, as well as ask soldiers from the Irish army to help in delivery.
Smith said delivering items to children helps make him feel closer to home.
He has a 6-year-old daughter, and he said he often sees her face in the children he meets throughout Kosovo.
“That’s how I explain to my daughter what I’m doing. I tell her I’m helping other little kids just like her,” he said. “[I] even send pictures back to her class to show the children how other children are doing around the world.”