From Bosnia with love, the letter that was kept for 20 years

Gabrielle Deane with the letter from Bosnia.
Gabrielle Deane with the letter from Bosnia.

A Derry woman who left a card in the jacket pocket which she donated to an aid package to Bosnia more than 20 years ago, has received a letter from the woman who received it!

Gabrielle Dean said she was shocked to receive the letter from Hasija Besic, 22 years after she sent coats to war torn Bosnia in 1994.

Gabrielle Deane with the letter from Bosnia.

Gabrielle Deane with the letter from Bosnia.

“I think that, at the time, there must have been an appeal for aid during the Bosnian war,” said Gabrielle.

“I started collecting bits and pieces in the house. I think I probably asked people in work to help with the donations too.

“In one of the jackets I put a little card with my name and address on it and asked whoever received the jacket to send me a letter.

“I supposed I was just wondering where the aid would go once it had been donated.”

Several months later Gabrielle received a letter from Hasija, but it was in a language that she could not understand.

“I asked my friend, Eimear, if she could find someone in the Foyle Language Centre to translate it,” said Gabrielle. “It took a while but when the letter was translated it read that Hasija was a young girl living in terrible times. She thanked me for the jacket.”

Gabrielle wrote back with a small gift and thought no more of the letter until this January when, out of the blue, she received a second letter from Hasija.

“Inside Hasija had enclosed a copy of the letter I wrote back to her,” said Gabrielle. “She told me how she has kept my letter all these years.

“She has the most beautiful copper plate writing and was writing in English. Hasija explained that she is now living in Sanski which is around 100 miles out from where she was living before in Zenica, which was a real hot spot during the war.

“She added that she is married and has two children. She thanked me for my help in sending the package.”

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Gabrielle said that although Hasija does not do facebook, her daughter Julia has found Gabrielle’s profile on the social networking site and intends to make contact in the nearby future.

“I have been so amazed that a letter that I sent 20 years ago meant so much to Hasija,” said Gabrielle.

“Even throughout the war and when she had to move she still kept my letter. I suppose I just want to let people know how much the aid that is sent overseas is valued. My aid reached her and it is very uplifting to know that this had such an impact. All for a few bits of clothes and jackets that we put in a box and sent over there. When you put a package together you always hope that the things you send over are given to the people who need them most and this has proved that happened.

Gabrielle says she now intends rewriting back to Hasija to keep in touch with her.