AS EYLA, Djibouti -- The Chief of Staff and service members from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn Of Africa celebrated the opening of the As Eyla Primary School with a ribbon cutting August 28.
The school had been temporarily closed for a $38,000 renovation project paid for and supervised by CJTF-HOA.
Attending the ceremony, Sultan Ali Mohammed Bocco addressed local villagers and CJTF-HOA service members during the opening speeches. " I would like to thank the Colonel very much for helping us rebuild our school. We have been happy since the arrival of the Americans in our country, and will be happy if things continue this way."
According to Army Capt. Joseph Roberts, of the 478th Civil Affairs Battalion, the project was started a month and half ago by Capt. Jeff Rynearson, who coordinated the work to be done at the schoolhouse. A contract was then awarded to a local firm to do the actual work, while engineers from Camp Lemonier supervised to ensure building codes were met.
The plumbing at the schoolhouse was replaced, as well as the broken windows and doors. One of the rooms was completely gutted and redone to make it useable by the students. The entire facility was then repainted. A general cleanup and scouring of the grounds was also done to remove debris and trash making the yard safe for the students to occupy..
After a contract is awarded to a firm, local workers and volunteers do all of the unskilled work involved, according to an agreement made with the Djiboutian Government. This returns money to the local community and creates jobs in the village.
All of the volunteers were awarded certificates of appreciation by the CJTF-HOA Chief of Staff for their work, which allowed the school to open on time.
Roberts brought the project to a close on August 28th with the ceremony, which opened the school for use.
A generous donation from church groups in the United States provided the school items to be used during the year, to include learning supplies and soccer balls, which were put into immediate use by the children.
Following the opening ceremonies, tour was provided for the CJTF-HOA visitors to show them the improvements made to the school, making it a better learning environment.
" I have had the opportunity to experience firsthand the generosity and hospitality of the Djiboutian people," said Marine Colonel William H. Callahan, CJTF-HOA Chief of Staff, who was able to experience a Djiboutian dance recital held on his behalf.
" There is no finer partner in this war on terrorism than the Djiboutian nation. The school is a symbol of our partnership and our commitment to world peace. Both the United States and Djibouti know there is no greater weapon against terrorism than education. It is indeed an honor today to be a part of this ceremony."