Ali Sabieh Library Opens after Renovations
Residents of Ali Sabieh, members of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa and the U.S. Embassy came together to commemorate the completion of the Ali Sabieh Library renovation at its grand opening ceremony August 1, 2010. Community members celebrated by reading poetry, performing skits, playing music and dancing to drums.
The library was originally opened in 2006. In April 2010, ALO-ASKA or "friends of open books" Library Association initiated the renovation project to provide additional adult education for women and increase tutoring for school children in the area. The library was a project jointly built and funded by ALO-ASKA Library Association, local volunteers and members of the U.S. Army 418th Civil Affairs Battalion, CJTF-HOA. "We were only a small piece of the pie that contributed to the overall effort. Nearly all of the physical labor involved in renovating this project was conducted by the ALO-ASKA Library Association," said Civil Affairs Team Leader, U.S. Army Captain Lara Brown.
The community and Civil Affairs team joined together to repair the roof, build a security fence, and a wall, and install new windows and doors. Together they finished the renovations in less than 50 days. Before renovations began, the library held only 100 books. It now holds more than 2,000 books for residents of Ali Sabieh thanks to the donations made by the French Society, Belgium Society and U.S.
"I know that reading and writing is good for my education." said Idriss Moussi, a student in Ali Sabieh. "Before the renovated library I went to the library at my school, but when it was closed for summer break, I didn't have one. Now that it is renovated, I can come here."
The Ali Sabieh library is the city's first public library that is open year-round. "I will encourage my friends to come to this library and learn more," said Moussi, "Thank you to America for helping to build this library and donate English books."
The library ceremony included a ribbon cutting symbolizing the entrance of the newly renovated site. CJTF - HOA Deputy Commander U.S. Army Brigadier General James Owens, Prefect's 1 Assistant Houmed Abbas, U.S. Embassy Charge d'Affaires Paul Pometto, and President of the Ali Sabieh Regional Council Ahmed Had, cut the ribbon at the conclusion of the ceremony.
"We join ALO in applauding the Djiboutian government officials for their dedication to improving the education of their people. This library will improve the quality of educational resources for the people of Ali Sabieh, and we hope it will serve not only as a library, but also as a learning center, a place where Djiboutians can gather, learn from one another and exchange ideas," said Pometto, who spoke on behalf of the U.S. Embassy.
The population of Ali Sabieh is approximately 40,000 and is Djibouti's second largest city. Omar Ahmed, president of the ALO-ASKA Library Association, said it is a community interested in expanding their children's education to read and write English. "The number of people here today is a testimony to the future success of this library," said Ahmed. "Thank you to the U.S. Army Civil Affairs team for supporting this library, and thank you to the American people who donated the English books."