Hometown service member makes big difference for children in Kosovo

Published 8:27 am Monday, June 2, 2014

Army Sgt. Keyon Martin, of Greenville, was a key leader in a major volunteer project to create safe and low cost daycare for children in Pristina, Kosovo.

The volunteer effort was led by Martin to raise money, purchase daycare equipment and then install it at the Pristina Women’s and Children’s Center. About 20 United States military personnel deployed to Kosovo participated in the project, which culminated in the delivery and construction of the daycare equipment on May 15.

U.S. service members on peacekeeping duties in Kosovo have volunteered at the center for the past five years, providing funds for electricity and bread, as well as performing maintenance at the facility. The center was originally created to assist Kosovar war widows and orphans. The shift to low cost daycare was seen as a positive step for the center to move from being a solely charitable agency into a functional business enterprise that provides enhanced and much needed service to working parents in the capital city of Pristina.

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“We all pitched in cooking hamburgers to sell to raise the funds and then got to enjoy the time at the center with the children when we installed the tables, chairs and cots,” Martin said. “The daycare center now is fully operational and can handle about 15 kids on a regular basis at a reasonable cost.”

On the day the equipment was installed the youth at the center performed a series of Kosovar dances and songs as a way to say thank you to the Americans for the assistance. The troops brought a cake and soft drinks to share with the children.

“I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am of Sgt. Martin. This is one of those little known theaters for U.S. personnel,” said Lt. Col. Roger T. Aeschliman, Commander of the Balkans National Support Element. “For these American warriors to work all day in a combat zone and then turn around and put in all this extra effort to help others and spread a positive image about our country is simply remarkable.”

Martin is the son of Timothy Wayne Demings and Annie Nell Martin, of Greenville.  He is on duty in Kosovo assisting in the NATO mission to provide a safe and secure environment in Kosovo and freedom of movement throughout the country.