Friday, December 5, 2008

Troops aid disabled Basra boy

WINTRY weather may be hitting football matches at home but Moray troops in Basra found themselves shying away from slide tackles as they took on local villagers in a game on a barren pitch.

The match involving 51 Squadron RAF Regiment from RAF Lossiemouth, was a sign of the improving security situation in Iraq and the bonds of friendship being formed were further strengthened as they handed over a wheelchair donated by All Mobility Highlands in Elgin to a disabled 12-year-old boy.
Until now, Rashash Muslim Al Hemdani, has had to rely on family members to carry him from one place to another within the village but the special gift will vastly improve his quality of life.

The youngster is not able to walk and has only a limited ability to communicate, but his medical condition has never been diagnosed due to the lack of medical facilities in the area.

He was spotted in the streets of his village of Al Khora where personnel from the RAF Regiment were liaising with local leaders and sheiks, and they stepped in with their offer of help.

"Today was basically people helping other people," said Squadron Leader James Lennie, who is the Officer Commanding.

"From a military perspective this helps us build stronger relationships with locals and their leaders."

Flight Lieutenant John Rees, the deputy squadron commander, added: "This is a great opportunity to improve the life of a young Iraqi through the goodwill of the people of Elgin. It is comforting for squadron personnel to know that the job we do is well supported by the public back home."

Villagers gathered around while the boy's wheelchair was adjusted to fit him by Captain Jeff Johnson, a US Army National Guardsman, who is an occupational therapist back in America.
51 Squadron are tasked with the security of the Contingency Operating Base (COB) in Basra and have built up a strong rapport with local people, leading to the sporting challenge on the football fiield.

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