Baghdad -- An opening ceremony for the Al-Hather Secondary School in southern Baghdad took place May 7, marking the completion of U.S.-funded renovations to the school.
The $57,500 renovation had been under way since late March, said 2nd Lt. Stephen Jaworski, Emergency Response Program coordinator for the 161st Infantry's 1st Battalion. The school will serve more than 700 students and have a staff of 30 teachers.
Al-Hather is one of 16 schools in the Diyala district of southern Baghdad that have drawn from a pool of $500 million that has been allocated to the First Team's 3rd Brigade Combat Team for reconstruction efforts in the region.
Renovations to the school included a thorough cleaning of the grounds, painting and finishing work, installation of new bathrooms, running water, electrical wiring, and the construction of an exterior wall.
Local craftsmen were hired for the project.
"It also gives a sense of pride to the neighborhood," Jaworski added. "The next thing we're looking at are desks, chalkboards, and books."
Jaworski works closely with the Diyala District Area Council (DAC), a group of community leaders, helping to prioritize and organize projects for Diyala's reconstruction and modernization requirements.
Besides education, the Diyala DAC is also working towards other projects such as a working sewer system.
CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq - Marines will soon start the Fallujah Outreach Center Project designed to train and employ more than 80 young Iraqis in such trades as plumbing, electrical work and construction work.
The center will be built north of the Fallujah Liaison Team building using materials and equipment from local businesses and vendors.
Employment for Fallujans continues to climb. Since the end of offensive operations, 1,700 Iraqis are employed in the Fallujah Brigade and another 138 are employed in locally contracted projects. Projects yet to be started will boost that number by another 205.
Marines also attended the Al Kharma City meeting. Visits were put on hold during offensive operations last month. Marines paid the Al Kharma youth director $10,000 to start construction on the Al Kharma Youth Center.
The Al Kharma sanitation director said improvements to the city's sanitation system would begin May 12. Additionally, the city's water director would submit bids May 12 for a project to bring potable water to seven outlying villages.
The 1st Marine Division is focused on destroying anti-Coalition Forces in the Al Anbar province while establishing a patient, persistent presence in the key areas throughout the province. Marines will support the development of competent, trustworthy, Iraqi Security Forces and conduct civil military operations.
By Spc. Bryan Kinkade
CAMP BLACK JACK, Iraq (Army News Service, May 10, 2004) -– A crowd of villagers moved toward the vehicles as they watched the 400-gallon water buffalo slowly cruise past them.
The Soldiers from Battery C, 4th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment were back, to provide water to the citizens of Sheik Fahed’s Village, right outside the Baghdad International Airport.
This was the second time the Soldiers had been to this village. During their first visit, they spoke to the village’s sheik and asked him how they could help his people. He said they would be grateful to have clean water.
“We thank them very much,” the village’s elder, Fahed, said in Arabic. “It’s hard to get water here.”
The children rushed out with giant buckets and old containers to hold the water as the truck stopped in front of their house. Some containers were little, old oil jugs and some were giant plastic trashcans. Most children remembered how the water buffalo worked, so once the truck stopped they were quickly filling their jugs with the fresh water.
“The reaction was a good success,” Capt. David Carlile, the company commander, said. “We’re providing them a much needed resource.”
When the company first entered the village, the citizens were wary about their presence, Carlile said.
“Now, the majority is glad to get the water from us,” he said. “They [usually] get their water out of a canal and it’s pretty dirty. They’re pretty happy to get fresh, potable water.”
The unit plans to deliver water to the village until their water treatment center is fixed.
“Hopefully it will be up and running in a week or so,” Carlile said. Civilians contracted out by the battery are fixing the treatment center.
While the Soldiers helped the children fill the containers, they spoke to them as well as they could. Some Soldiers spoke as much Arabic as they knew to the children and some of the children spoke a little English back. They also gave candy to the children.
Once the buckets were filled up and the buffalo was empty, the Soldiers were on their way back to camp. The mobile watering hole would reopen again in a few days.
(Editor’s note: Spc. Bryan D. Kinkade is a member of the 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs staff.)