Obock, Djibouti - -- A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held here December 4, marking the grand opening of the newly renovated Obock Primary School by personnel from the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa.
The six-week long, $35,000 project, paid for by CJTF-HOA, will be utilized to increase the education and well-being of the local community.
Although the focus of CJTF-HOA is based on antiterrorism, a key element of the task force's mission lies in making a positive difference in the lives of the people in the region and their environment.
Nearly 350 children attend class every week in the 12-classroom school. With two new classroom buildings, one administrative building, and a restored dining facility, the children will have a better and healthier environment to acquire an education.
"We're very happy with the results of this project," said Army Maj. Alfred Kelly, civil affairs team leader. "It shed positive light on U.S. Forces in the region, as well as improving the quality of life for the people of Obock."
The event began with a ceremonial dance performance by local school children, followed by speeches from special guests who attended the ceremony.
Addressing the children and teachers were Marine Brig. Gen. Mastin M. Robeson, commander of CJTF-HOA, and the commissioner for the District of Obock, Omar Farada Mohamed, who said they were pleased with the work the CJTF-HOA personnel and local community members had accomplished in the time spent working together at the education center.
"These civil-military humanitarian assistance projects will contribute to the development and well being of the people of Obock for a long-time to come," said Robeson.
Farada Mohamed said it's a great satisfaction to be able to thank the United States military for helping to improve the lives of the local people through projects such as this. The renovation of the school is an example of the U.S. forces contribution to the social betterment of the district of Obock and their commitment to the country.
Before the ribbon cutting, certificates were presented to Abdoulkader Ahmed Hussain, the Obock Primary School director, Djiboutian Capt. Said Awaleh Doualeh, the acting commander of InterArms Obock, and Omar Kamil Mohamed, for their exceptional volunteer work with the renovation project.
Robeson, along with Hussain, Farada Mohamed and a handful of school children, cut the ribbon strung across the entrance of the school, symbolizing the completion of the project.
Then a sign posted on the school building was revealed that stated The renovation of the Obock Primary School celebrates the spirit of friendship and cooperation between the people of Obock, Djibouti, and the military forces of the United States of America. Dedicated November 2003.
Afterward, a group of school children entertained the attendees with skits, songs, and dances, attracting Roberson to the center of the ring, dancing along with the performers.
"It was a nice day for the event, and we all had a good time at the celebration," he said. "I hope the children of Obock will one day look back and remember America's help here in this community."
Before leaving, Roberson toured the school with the local villagers and said he looks forward to doing more projects like this in the future.
"The community of Obock's thanks to the United States was very heartfelt," said Kelly. "With these projects, we gain support from the civilian population, which ties to our mission of routing out terrorism in this region. By developing good relationships with our surrounding communities now, it will endure long after we depart from the Horn of Africa."