U.S. Personnel Dedicate Ethiopian School Facilities, Enhance Education Opportunities
Ethiopian and U.S. personnel gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to dedicate a new school house and two latrines at the Gende Gerada Primary School here May 22.
This building project lines up with one part of the mission statement for Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa?enhancing partner nation capacity. One way CJTF-HOA personnel help accomplish this is by providing opportunities for African nations to help themselves.
U.S. Navy Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Three Detachment HOA, in support of tje CJTF-HOA mission, oversaw the final leg of this two year project. Three previous Seabee teams constructed the school building itself, while NMCB 3 completed construction of the two latrines and added final touchups to the school house after their arrival in February, said U.S. Navy Lt. j.g. Sarah Ursetti, NMCB 3 officer in charge.
The school already hosts approximately 2,500 students. The new four room school house now allows the school to accommodate 200 additional students, said the principal of Gende Gerada, Kumsa Baysa.
Dire Dawa education officials plan on using the new building to teach children ages 5 to 6, said Kumsa. This will be the first time the school will have the facilities to hold a kindergarten program.
"The addition of the new classrooms will provide great benefits for the education of our country," said Kumsa. "I would like to say 'thank you' to the people of the United States government and our people who worked with the U.S. military."
The Seabees were not alone in their construction efforts, said Ursetti. Since the project began in April 2010, several Gende Gerada school boys lent a helping hand to the Navy construction crews whenever and wherever they could.
"It started off with three or four boys initially, but when our crew arrived that number grew to about seven, with several others helping out as we neared the end," said Ursetti.
"We got a firsthand experience with what they learned already because of stuff they already did on the school," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Benjamin Weber, NMCB 3 project supervisor, referring to the work the students performed with previous Seabee rotations. Weber said the students jumped right in to help them with constructing the latrines.
During the dedication, U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Michael Franken, CJTF-HOA commander, presented each of the young students with his command coin to thank them for their hard work and dedication to their school.
In his speech during the ceremony, Kumsa revealed his vision of the results the new facilities will bring.
"In the future, you will see many kids filling up this school and we will use it for the betterment of our country," said Kumsa.