Stateside Organizations Donate School Supplies to Djiboutian Students

DJIBOUTI - U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Michael Hert, 418th Civil Affairs Battalion (CA BN) executive officer and Civil Military Liaison Officer to the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti, greets students outside Community Development Center 5 September 13, 2010. U.S. Army 418th CA BN soldiers attached to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, distributed supplies to more than 180 students. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Kathrine McDowell) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI - U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Michael Hert, 418th Civil Affairs Battalion (CA BN) executive officer and Civil Military Liaison Officer to the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti, greets students outside Community Development Center 5 September 13, 2010. U.S. Army 418th CA BN soldiers attached to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, distributed supplies to more than 180 students. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Kathrine McDowell)
DJIBOUTI CITY, Djibouti - U.S. Army Major Michael Guiles, 418th Civil Affairs Battalion (CA BN) team leader, teaches a Djiboutian youth how to throw a Frisbee disc September 13, 2010. Soldiers of the 418th CA BN attached to Combines Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa distributed bundles of school supplies and t-shirts to more than 180 students. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Kathrine McDowell) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI CITY, Djibouti - U.S. Army Major Michael Guiles, 418th Civil Affairs Battalion (CA BN) team leader, teaches a Djiboutian youth how to throw a Frisbee disc September 13, 2010. Soldiers of the 418th CA BN attached to Combines Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa distributed bundles of school supplies and t-shirts to more than 180 students. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Kathrine McDowell)
DJIBOUTI - A Djiboutian schoolgirl of District 5 holds her bundle of school supplies September 13, 2010. More than 180 students received bundles from U.S. Army 418th Civil Affairs Battalion soldiers attached to Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Kathrine McDowell) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI - A Djiboutian schoolgirl of District 5 holds her bundle of school supplies September 13, 2010. More than 180 students received bundles from U.S. Army 418th Civil Affairs Battalion soldiers attached to Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Kathrine McDowell)
DJIBOUTI - Djiboutian students of District 5 receive bundles of school supplies and t-shirts September 13, 2010. More than 180 students received such bundles from U.S. Army 418th Civil Affairs Battalion soldiers attached to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Kathrine McDowell) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI - Djiboutian students of District 5 receive bundles of school supplies and t-shirts September 13, 2010. More than 180 students received such bundles from U.S. Army 418th Civil Affairs Battalion soldiers attached to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Kathrine McDowell)
DJIBOUTI - U.S. Army Major Michael Guiles, 418th Civil Affairs Battalion team leader, talks to a local student as he passes out bundles of school supplies and t-shirts collected from stateside organizations and from different sections of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa September 13, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Kathrine McDowell) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI - U.S. Army Major Michael Guiles, 418th Civil Affairs Battalion team leader, talks to a local student as he passes out bundles of school supplies and t-shirts collected from stateside organizations and from different sections of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa September 13, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Kathrine McDowell)
DJIBOUTI - U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Michael Hert, 418th Civil Affairs Battalion executive officer and civil military liaison officer to the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti, passes out bundles of school supplies and t-shirts sent from the Bethany United Church and the Wisconsin Mid-Morning Kiwanis Club of Oshkosh September 13, 2010. The donations were distributed by U.S. Army 418th Civil Affairs Battalion soldiers currently attached to Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Kathrine McDowell) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI - U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Michael Hert, 418th Civil Affairs Battalion executive officer and civil military liaison officer to the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti, passes out bundles of school supplies and t-shirts sent from the Bethany United Church and the Wisconsin Mid-Morning Kiwanis Club of Oshkosh September 13, 2010. The donations were distributed by U.S. Army 418th Civil Affairs Battalion soldiers currently attached to Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Kathrine McDowell)
DJIBOUTI - Djiboutian students and their mothers leave Community Development Center 5 after a school supply distribution September 13, 2010. More than 180 students received bundles of school supplies from U.S. Army 418th Civil Affairs Battalion soldiers attached to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Kathrine McDowell) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI - Djiboutian students and their mothers leave Community Development Center 5 after a school supply distribution September 13, 2010. More than 180 students received bundles of school supplies from U.S. Army 418th Civil Affairs Battalion soldiers attached to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Kathrine McDowell)

The Community Development Center (CDC) 5 stairwell in downtown Djibouti City was packed tight as more than 180 children rushed out of the building, each carrying a bundle of school supplies, a t-shirt and a smile passed on to them by the U.S. Army 418th Civil Affairs Battalion (CA BN) September 13, 2010.

The effort for the distribution was a close collaboration between U.S. Army Major Michael Guiles, 418th CA BN, and the director of School District 5, Mariam Youssouf.

"The people come to me and tell me what problems there are in the community," said Youssouf. "I relay that to Civil Affairs when they come to see me."

The school director said she's been in contact with the Army for three months and when the CA team stops by, they always ask how they can help.

Word went out through Djibouti City local media that children from School District 5 could come to the center for school supplies. This particular CDC was chosen for the distribution of donations, collected by several organizations of Combined Joint Task - Horn of Africa as well as from stateside organizations, to reach the most people possible.

Supplies came in from as far away as Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the hometown of the 418th CA BN executive officer Lieutenant Colonel Michael Hert.

"Education and health care are big priorities here," said Hert. "Donating school supplies is an opportunity for people back home to reach out and connect internationally."

The crowd of children sang "Frere Jacques" before thanking the soldiers and going outside for a lesson on playing with Frisbee discs by the 418th CA BN.

When asked if the children were always this lively, Youssouf replied, "There is always excitement when the Army comes."

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