One hundred children from war-torn parts of Serbia have arrived in the Bernese Oberland for what may be one of their first proper holidays in years.This content was published on July 26, 2001 - 14:26
Their two-week stay is being funded by a Swiss foundation, Swiss Cor, which receives donations from Swiss businesses.
The young people will take part in excursions, sports and outdoor games, all part of a hectic two-week schedule designed to take their minds off the traumas in their native country. The activities include trips to the Jungfrau, the Schildthorn glacier and the Bern zoo.
The youngsters are being housed in army barracks in Grindelwald. However, they seem unperturbed by the army presence and the camouflaged look of their holiday home. "The uniforms don't bother us. The soldiers aren't threatening - they play footie (football) with us," said one of the young people.
The 150 soldiers in Grindelwald are helping to provide the young guests with as much rest and distraction as possible. "Above all, we want the kids to have fun and to feel safe," said the camp's director, Eduard Schmid.
Ten Serbian teachers oversee the children, and as many volunteers lend them a hand at the site.
As for practical aspects, the visitors receive dental and medical care and clothing, although organisers stress that this is not a primary objective of their stay.
Swiss Cor selected the children, aged between 12 and 14, on the basis of their scholastic achievements.
The fund was established last year, after children from devastated parts of the Balkans came over for a holiday, on the initiative of the former Swiss President, Adolf Ogi.
swissinfo with agencies
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