British hostage David Haines held by ISIS ‘helped thousands of people’

The Telegraph reports: The wife of the British hostage David Haines has described him as “everything to us” in her first comments since terrorists threatened to behead him.

Mr Haines, 44, is a father of two described by his wife as a “fantastic man and father”.

He made his home in Croatia after spending five years helping local people, including Muslim families, rebuild their homes after the Balkans war, and the town of Petrinja, where he helped put up 800 houses, was “in shock” over his seemingly hopeless plight.

Mr Haines, who was born on Humberside but raised in Scotland, has a 17-year-old daughter by his first wife Louise and a four-year-old daughter by his second wife Dragana, who is Croatian.

Speaking at the family’s home near Zagreb, Dragana Haines, 44, said: “He’s everything to us. He’s our life. He’s a fantastic man and father.

“Nobody can understand how we are feeling. My daughter keeps asking about him every day. She hasn’t seen her father for a year and a half. She has gone through so much. She sees me crying all the time.

“My daughter was on a play date and I had to bring her home when I got the news.

“I just can’t digest it right now. We just don’t want to do anything to endanger his life.”

Mr Haines and his wife, whom he met when she worked as his translator, were due to celebrate their fourth wedding anniversary in November, having married in Croatia in 2010, when Mr Haines wore a kilt.

He was known as the “Crazy Scotsman” by locals whom he helped during several spells working for aid agencies in parts of Croatia torn apart by civil war.

When he worked for the German aid agency Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund from 1999 to 2004 Mr Haines’s landlady in the Croatian town of Petrinja was Nena Skoric, 67, to whom he affectionately referred as “Mama”.

Sitting at her kitchen table, surrounded by photographs and memories of Mr Haines, Mrs Skoric said: “To me, it was like God had sent David to this place.

“It didn’t matter to him whether people were Croats, Serbs or Muslims, as long as they needed help.

“Many of the people from all sides had destroyed each other’s houses during the war. There were many families who had lost everything.

“But they all loved David. For years after he left they would come here and ask how he was. He was such a good man and he was like one of my family.

“I don’t know what is wrong with the kidnappers. Don’t they know he was helping Muslims? They don’t seem to care about that.”

Mr Haines helped “thousands” of local people as he led efforts to build new homes and schools for refugees returning to their shattered villages, and became so frustrated at the lack of available funds that he would donate a large slice of his salary to pay for materials and other essentials. [Continue reading…]

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