The Movement On Own Feet - Centipede

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Mrs. Bela in Basra

Dear children, dear teachers,
On July 27, 2005 I flew to Basra, Iraq, with the Centipede gifts for the children. Before boarding the plane in Prague, I was touched again by the „Czech feeling“; even the plan with the Czech flag symbolized to sovereignty of the Czech Republic. It was a wonderful feeling.
And then we flew. Everybody around was sleeping, but I could not. Suddenly the stewardess announced: “We are above Iraq now”. I looked out the window. The sky was beautiful, deeply black and it seemed to me I could almost touch the stars…
The plane moved suddenly and I came back to the reality from my dream. Thousand and one nights – and bombs. We were landing to the war and waling towards the airport building. It is like a fairy tale one – at least the parts that remained. And then – “take the helmets and bullet-proof vests!” Back to the terrible reality… (and heavy reality – the vest itself weights 25 kg and it was 45°C in a shadow).
We hopped on the bus with covered windows. The way to the Czech police base was a race ween the concrete barricades and wire nets. The attacker cannot break through. This is not a sport anymore. This is an antiterrorist race…
I could not sit at the covered window. I moved away the curtain and watched the horribly dry, deserted countryside, devastated by war. Suddenly, in the middle of nowhere, there was standing a skinny woman with two children. They were scraping the land. What were they looking for there? What could they find there?
Accompanied by the Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Army of the Czech Republic general major Emil Pupis and other soldiers I met the children. It was beautiful. They were scared of me at the beginning – I was white. And white people mean enemies for them. But then they loosened up, came to me to take the presents and were returning to hug me. From you, dear Centipedes, they got beautiful backpacks and pencil cases filled with pens, pencils and crayons. DELVITA Company gave them beautiful toys. The emotions of the meeting were expressed by a British officer who told me afterwards:

“I have been here for 8 months, but for the very first time I saw happiness here.”

The meeting with our soldiers on the base, which followed, was pleasant as well. They impressed me by their huge humanity and sensitivity they use while talking to local people. Suddenly, one member of the military police spoke to me: “Mrs. Bela, wouldn’t you like to see the pictures of the children in my computer?” It was a bolt from the blue… These were no ordinary pictures, these pictures had soul. I was touched especially by one picture of a little girl. This one must be in our book!! And it will be there…  
In the end, I would love to thank you, dear centipede friends. The British officer is still on my mind. It has been a long time without happiness for the children. And he has been there only for 8 moths! And none of us knows when the children will have a reason for happiness again, if ever.

I was telling myself that these are not only toys that you are sending to the children; this is true love.

Thank you.

Truly yours,

Bela Gran Jensen

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