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The spirit of Operation Sattahip

As the Jamboree draws to a close, the final issue of Sawasdee Jam (the official Jamboree newsletter) contains the following article by American Scout Martin Conrad:

Making Dreams Come True

Diversity is an important part of the jamboree experience. A point is to try and get Scouts from as many countries as possible to gather in one place. Unfortunately, cost usually prevents some developing countries from being able to send Scouts.

Jamboree costs range from travel expenses to registration fees, uniforms and equipment. Luckily, there is a program in place that attempts to solve these difficulties.

Operation Sattahip is a fund that helps Scouts from developing countries take part in the jamboree. This is the third world jamboree where the host country has organized a program to help less privileged Scouts attend.

Here it is called Operation Sattahip, since that is the name of the town where the jamboree is held. The Thai government has contributed 15 million Baht (nearly US$360,000) to the operation.

Also 2.5 percent of registration fees paid by participants helped set up the fund. Other countries that have contributed directly or indirectly: United States of America, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Japan, Belgium and the United Kingdom (UK).

These contributions have enabled at least 60 countries to send at least one Scout.

A prime example of the spirit of Operation Sattahip would be Project Sabir. In the United Kingdom a few months ago, Daniel Metcalfe and Jeremy Foreman discovered they had been chosen to attend the jamboree. They contacted their headmaster at Gordon’s School to request financial aid.

Gordon’s School, and the Gordon Foundation, which supports the school, decided they could do more. In the spirit of Scouting, they decided to support a Sudanese Scout and help make an impossible dream come true.

But why Sudan? Gordon’s School was set up at the request of Queen Victoria in 1885. It was created as a National Memorial to Gen. Charles Gordon, who was killed in Khartoum, Sudan, in 1885. A fundamental part of Project Sabir is to establish a relationship between the UK and Sudan. So, to promote peace and goodwill, the school thought that providing for a Sudanese Scout to attend the jamboree would be a positive symbolic gesture.

Metcalfe and Foreman, along with their school, contacted the chief commissioner of the Boy Scouts Association of Sudan (Atif Abdelmageed Abdelrahman) and offered to pay for another Sudanese Scout. Sabir Arbab Ramadan, 15, was chosen to attend, and Project Sabir was named for him. Sabir was a refugee suffering from drought and famine, and lived in a poor area of Khartoum. He attends school and to feed his family would sell water by cart and donkey.

And the impossible happened: Sabir made it to the jamboree. In fact, on Jan. 2, Dan and Jeremy met Sabir for the first time at his subcamp.

Said Metcalfe, “The tension and excitement was certainly building as we traveled to the subcamp . . . when we first set eyes on Sabir, we were told his nickname was ‘Smile,’ and we could see why.”

Said Sabir, “I have had a fabulous experience making new friends, seeing the world outside my hometown and having lots of fun. This experience has encouraged me to work towards my dream of being a doctor to help patients with leprosy.”

Added Atif, “This relationship will influence more youth to join Scouts and make a difference in more lives. It will also serve as an example for other Scouts to follow.”