Fundraising event for 2017 Sarajevo trip

Sarajevo fundraiser - The Stress Medic

I’ve made the commitment to return to Sarajevo next April! To help continue the wonderful voluntary work of Healing Hands Network. Imagine how amazed and delighted I was when Rose Hutton of Astley Music Group contacted me to offer me a fundraising event, to kick start my fundraising for the trip. In fact they did two, raising a total of £150 which is a fabulous boost towards the £800 I need to raise.

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About the fundraising event

I was delighted when Rose contacted me. How amazing to be offered a fundraising event to support me going back to Sarajevo with Healing Hands Network – helping to continue the charities work with those suffering as a result of the war. Naturally I accepted, having just made the commitment to return to Sarajevo next April, this would be the perfect boost to start my £800 of required fundraising. In fact they ran two events for me and raised a fabulous £150.

Rose organises regular charity events and supports many charities, and she is very good at it. I could only attend the first event because I had another commitment to Healing Hands Network, but we had a wonderful evening of comedy and song in October, and I’m sure the second event was equally entertaining.

On the 8th October our entertainers were Kelly Louise and Dave Chance. Kelly Louise has a beautiful, clear voice and performed a wide repertoire of songs, and is no stranger to comedy. Dave Chance is a comedian, and had the room in stitches, but he’s also a singer and has an excellent voice, it was a great combination. The evening was such good value, with a ploughmans supper included and a raffle with many donated prizes. A lovely evening was had by all and I am so grateful for everyone’s support.

My Sarajevo Gallery



Sarajevo Old Town






Mujo and me. I was laughing because Mujo had slid down the wall so as not to be so tall beside me.





Family I got chatting to in The Old Town – from Bahrain, they are Manchester United supporters!






With Enisa, one of our interpreters.







The Cathedral in Sarajevo






Just around the corner from the clinic, some of the evidence of the conflict.







Some of the history, it’s not pretty but you can read it if you zoom in.








Workspace at outreach in Hadzici.






Co-worker Nigel & myself in the second week.






At ‘To Be Or Not To Be’ in the old town, this lady cooks amazingly good food on a grill.

Making the best of a bad situation

Making the connection in Munich was my one concern about my whole Sarajevo trip – I didn’t know why. So, I was very happy to go through the transfer side and see my departure gate, on my boarding pass signed. I was off. And, it wasn’t too far away. I sat down gratefully and texted Trevor to say I’d arrived at the departure gate with time to spare.

I sat for a few minutes eating some fruit and then thought “it’s too quiet here. I’ll check the boards in case they’ve changed the gate”. But there were no boards with all the flights on, at least that I could find, and there had been no announcements about anything! Have you spotted my embarrassingly foolish mistake?!  I had gone to the gate before checking if they’d changed it (I also found out later that the lack of announcements may have been due to industrial action). I found an information desk. They had changed the gate! To one a long way away and the plane was boarding…

I started to run. There was a train, huge escalators and corridors. By the time I arrived I was in an awful sweat, way past glowing, and could barely breathe or speak for coughing.  And, I’d missed my flight! For just one split second I did consider sitting on the floor and bawling, but decided it wouldn’t help.


I was instructed to go to the Lufthansa desk; a 5 minute walk away. Lufthansa were very helpful, but said my only alternatives were to go via Istanbul and arrive in Sarajevo in the evening, or wait overnight for a direct flight. I opted for Istanbul, though was slightly alarmed that I would have to make another connection, and then had to apologies for being a bit emotional . They then told me I had to go straight there to catch it as at was across in terminal one – a long way off and I should go left and right downstairs and along!  I wanted to phone ahead and let people know that I would not be arriving as expected. But, faced with the idea of missing another flight decided it would have to wait.

I went and found myself at a train stop, fortunately a lone person was able to confirm it went to terminal 1. Off the train, then up more stairs, but at the top there were no signs in sight to direct me any further. I stopped a chap who looked like he worked at the airport.  He asked to see my boarding card, I actually only had a ticket at this point, and I explained my situation. “Come with me, I’ll take you or you’ll have to go through security again, don’t worry you’ll catch your flight”. He showed me to his airport buggy, and off we went until we arrived at a lift’ “Go down to the ground floor and get on the bus there”.

There were two chaps on the ground floor, one very smart and official looking and the other more casual. I tried the door to go out and look for the bus, but it wouldn’t open. The official looking chap told me it wouldn’t open until the bus arrived in 11 minutes. Perfect time to call ahead I thought, and took out my phone. But there was no signal. Then official chap, noticing my problem, offered me his airport phone and helped me get through to Nardija, how lovely was that?!

The next bit of good luck was that ‘casual chap’ was going on the same flight to Istanbul and was a seasoned traveller, so I started to feel more comfortable about catching my flight. The bus arrived and once at the other end I was quite happy to trot along behind until we arrived at our gate.

Realising that I didn’t have a boarding card yet, my companion instructed me to go to the front of the short queue. Well I’m British, going to the front of a queue is not something I do, but time was short and I needed a boarding card. I’m not sure if the people I went past understood a word I said, but they all just smiled and moved aside!

We boarded, but not before my business class companion had said he would wait for me at the other end, and sign me in to the business lounge. He only had a short time to make his transfer, but I had a couple of hours or more, and I’d be more comfortable there he said. I spent the flight sat next to a lovely muslim man and a spare seat.

Orchids in the washroomSure enough my casual companion waited for me, it took a few minutes to sign me in. His parting shot was, have anything you like to eat and drink, it’s all free!  If only I’d known, I wouldn’t have eaten on the plane, so I settled for a really good glass of homemade lemonade – well two actually. And I wish I taken more pictures, but at least you can see the ladies wash room!   All orchids and mirrors.

mirrorsThankfully the departure gate in Istanbul was only half way across the airport – and no stairs!  After a short delay, I had a comfortable flight with a spare seat beside me.

I finally arrived in Sarajevo sometime after 9pm – without my bag.  And apart from letting Nardjia know that I wouldn’t arrive until after 8, and despite 20+ attempts, I had been unable to make my phone work to contact anyone to let them know my flight number or details.  So I was mightily pleased that Salih, who transports everyone from Healing Hands Network, spotted me at the airport and came to help sort out about my missing luggage, and arranged for me to collect it the next day.

Arriving at the house, my home for the next two weeks, Dennis and Sheila were lovely.  Sheila lent me a nightdress, there was olive oil from the kitchen to remove makeup.

So, I had an unexpected detour. But Lufthansa were so helpful and didn’t charge any extra, I met four lovely men who did everything they could for me, and got to visit the poshest loos ever! I was also very glad I’d packed my toothbrush, spare nickers and makeup in my hand luggage. Maybe I’ll include a spare T’shirt in future too!

Sarajevo and Healing Hands Network

At 20 years old I wanted to do something ‘more’ with my life.  I wrote off to the ‘Voluntary Services Overseas’; but being a woman they weren’t interested unless I was a nurse or a teacher.  I later joined the Ambulance Service, and many years on that experience has given me a special interest in Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The want to do something “more” with my life, lingered.

Now, through my work as the Stress Medic, I am able to support a wonderful charity – Healing Hands Network, and have been working with their UK Forces Project.  The charity is dedicated to the relief of suffering caused by war and its aftermath, and so are familiar with PTSD.  Outside of the UK, one area greatly affected is Sarajevo.  Healing Hands Network have been sending alternative therapy volunteers to Bosnia since 1997.

headling hands network

Sarajevo: my choice to help relieve suffering

So, in May, I have chosen to go to Sarajevo for two weeks to volunteer. It is a bit of a last minute decision; but I’m finally going to do voluntary service overseas! Those who donate their time must raise the funds necessary for their airfare and lodging, and towards interpreters wages; in my case £800.

This may be a calling I have felt for a long time, but now I am giving my time and making it happen. If it resonates with you, and you feel inspired and able to support me in some way, I would be grateful for any donation towards this cost.

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