Soldiers help town build new school

By Sgt. Ann Venturato

Although the students and teachers from the Al Ebrahimiya Intermediate and Secondary School in Al Dujail were enjoying summer vacation, the headmaster along with Soldiers from LSA Anaconda had a ribbon cutting ceremony July 10 to open the newly remodeled facilities.

The school rebuilding project was sponsored by the Special Troops Battalion, 13th Corps Support Command with the help of the 13th COSCOM Civil Affairs Office, said 1st Lt. Dhramen Singh, the S-1, STB, 13th COSCOM.

"The cost of the school project was about $ 92,000," said Singh.

The two story building, which is the biggest school in the district, has about 60 classrooms for about 700 students who will be attending the school in the fall.

The students got to see some of the construction going on before their classes ended for summer vacation.

The construction of the school began about three months ago with a building that was basically abandoned, said Col. Nicholas Zoeller.

"A lot of the school was non-functional before the rebuilding project," said Maj. Tracy Fong, Civil Affairs project officer.

The school underwent major remodeling that changed the inside and outside appearance of the school.

"It was a brown color and all of the plaster was coming off of the walls and there were no doors at all. It was unbelievable," said Lt. Col. Terry Hilder, commander, Special Troops Battalion.

Local workers from the community helped with the construction of the school. "[Local villagers] refurbished the walls and ceilings, stripped the old cement off. They redid the ceiling and the upper floor. [The villagers] built a cafeteria, bathrooms, playground and repainted the entire school. They added doors and fans," said Singh.

Adel Jassim Hamad, the headmaster for the school, along with local dignitaries and Soldiers toured the newly remodeled school after the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

"I would say it is a different school. Anybody would say this was a new building," said Hamad, through a translator.

Besides building a school, the project helped build community relations between the Soldiers and the people of Al Dujail.

"I think this is a great way to build a relationship with a town that is not necessarily friendly toward the Americans," said Singh. "And to show them a different prospective of our country. It's a win-win situation because the community gets assistance and we get to change any negative perceptions people might have."


news photo
1st Lt. Dhramen Singh, S-1 Special Troops Battalion, 13th Corps Support Command, and 1st Sgt. Deborah McDaniels, 21st Replacement Company, help carry school supplies into the Al Ebrahimiya Intermediate and Secondary School in Al Dujail July 10.