U.S. Servicemembers, Djiboutian Community Partner for Dikhil Cleanup
More than 50 Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa servicemembers partnered with several hundred residents of Dikhil, Djibouti, Sept. 2, 2012, to clean up seven schools within the city.
The joint effort, which included several hours of trash pickup, painting, rearranging desks and light cleaning within five primary schools, one secondary school, and one high school, helped get the schools ready for the first day of school Sept. 3, 2012.
"We're promoting a community cleanup in Dikhil by helping clean up the area and beautify schools," said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Jerome Jackson, 448th Civil Affairs Battalion, Alpha Company team sergeant for Dikhil.
Since the 448th team's arrival in Dikhil three months ago, the cleanup marks the first U.S. and Djiboutian partner event focused on making a difference in the community.
"It's huge for us," said U.S. Army Capt. Adam Buckley, 448th Civil Affairs Battalion, Alpha Company team officer in charge for Dikhil. "This event gets the people to understand who Americans are and us to understand the Djiboutians better. We're both here working together."
According to Buckley, school is a significant part of Djiboutian culture; so the day's event took much time to coordinate.
"[The City of Dikhil] took ownership of this event and formed a city council, something that's never happened before," Buckley said. "There was a lot of coordination between the local government, the Djiboutian military, Gendarmerie, police, U.S. military and U.S. embassy. We partnered with the population of Dikhil [and Friends of Africa Volunteers at Camp Lemonnier] to get ready for the school year."
Dikhil also serves as a regional education hub.
"The high school draws students from the entire Dikhil region," Buckley said. "All of Western Djibouti will attend here."
The event also helped to break language barriers and improve quality of life, according to Jackson. It marked the first of many to come.
"The local government is really supportive of it, and take the lead on much of this," Buckley said. "We're going to continue to do cleanup days periodically."