Sara's army

25th December 1998 at 00:00
Talking of war, (the Diary makes no apologies for its un-festive mood) our attention returns for the second week to the Balkans. You'll recall last week's report that Nottinghamshire is exporting RE to Montenegro. Now we hear of a London teacher's peace-keeping efforts in Bosnia.

Sara Brown is a French teacher but also, somewhat scarily, a trained interrogator with the Territorial Army, which must have made for entertaining lessons at Ravenscroft comprehensive in Barnet, north London.

Lieutenant Brown (no relation to Sarah Brown of the Salvation Army in Guys and Dolls) left Barnet six months ago for a tour of duty with the Light Dragoons in Bosnia, part of the NATO-led stabilisation force. For the past two months as well as rebuilding bridges and grilling the locals she has been teaching English twice a week to infants in kindergarten classes in the village of Laktasi.

An army press release tells us many of the 150 pupils at the newly-refurbished kindergarten suffered trauma in the war and 15 lost a parent. But Sara, 24, brings a smile to their faces.

"The only problem of classroom discipline she faces from the eager learners is restraining them from diving on top of her at the end of lessons - and smothering her with kisses!" it gushes.

Heartwarmingly, we learn she takes off her beret and gun before taking the lessons so as not to scare the children.

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