Multi-National Division – Baghdad PAO
CAMP TAJI, Iraq – Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers from 1st Battalion 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, along with member of the embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team –Baghdad 5, attached to 2nd SBCT, toured three schools and helped open another in Tarmiyah, northwest of Baghdad, Oct. 9.
The schools were in various stages of progress; from the very beginning phases to a completed building, which is ready for children to learn.
“There is nothing more fulfilling for me than to build a school for children,” said 1st Lt. Erik Peterson, Civil Military Operations officer, 1st Bn. 14th Inf. Regt.
Peterson joined the school building projects in February and said the Tarmiyah Qada Council has put in a lot of work to make progress possible.
“They have been there every step of the way,” he said. “Everything that goes into construction was done by Iraqi engineers. All Americans did was handle a little bit of paperwork.”
Malcom Phelps, and senior education advisor for the ePRT agreed.
“The Iraqi people are stepping up to their responsibilities,” he said. “It has been slow, but it is a growing process."
Progress on some of these schools has taken a long time and seen the rise and fall of violence in the area.
One of the schools toured, the Quadasiyah School, was in the middle of violence for years.
Renovations on the school began approximately three years ago, but were halted due to al-Qaeda in Iraq taking over the building. When that happened progress stopped, Peterson said.
“Now that al Qaeda is basically gone from this area we can finish this project,” he said.
The school is scheduled for opening this year.
These four schools were the first schools visited by Phelps, when he arrived in April of last year.
Though the building is near completion, the school still awaits furniture and books. This school is also scheduled for opening this year.
“They see the progress being made and they want to be a part of it,” he said. “It’s symbolic as well as real progress they can see.”
The Barada School is now open and ready to provide children in the area with the opportunity to learn, The Soldiers and residents celebrated its opening and Phelps recognizes it as an example of the great work the Iraqi people are doing and step in the right direction.