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Friday, October 16, 2009

Iraq: On Ground Updates - October 15, 2009

Troops Help Open School- More To Come
Friday, October 16, 2009
. About above photo: Pvt. Vince Dalseg, 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, interacts with children during a ceremony to re-open a refurbished primary school in Zaidon, western Baghdad, October 15th
Photo by Staff Sgt. Mark Burrell, Multi-National Division-Baghdad
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Children laughed and talked excitedly throughout the re-opening ceremony of the Zuhair Bin Abysulma Primary School in western Baghdad, Oct. 15.
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The $67,000 refurbishment project was a joint effort between U.S. troops and the local government that came to fruition after three months of hard work, said Navy Lt. Ross Simpson, a civil affairs officer, from Dalton, Ga.
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The project included cleaning up debris, painting the building, adding electricity and fixing the plumbing for the 128 local area children that attend the school, explained Simpson, who is assigned to the 422nd Civil Affairs Battalion.
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"Before, the school was dark; it had lots of trash and even broken glass,” he said. “Now it's brighter and the students are much happier, have more energy and have pride in their building, which adds to their willingness to learn."
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According to Simpson, the Nassir Wa Salem area council and U.S. forces from 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, worked closely to rebuild the one-story schoolhouse and provide desks and chairs for the faculty and students to foster a better learning environment.
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"This is a very important day and we feel very happy because everything has changed," explained the school's headmaster, Kalid Ahmed. "Now students are more willing to show up to school."
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According to Ahmed, one of the most important renovations was the bathrooms. In the past, the students didn't have proper facilities, making the school an uncomfortable place to spend the school year.
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"Whenever students are happy and comfortable, it is easier for the teacher to teach the students," continued Ahmed. "I feel excellent today because we know that U.S. forces are good people and want to take care of us, the children and the school."
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During the visit, the troops also donated backpacks to each one of the eager students who were quick to smile and shake hands with everyone.
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"What we're trying to do here is to help these kids become the future leaders of Iraq," said Simpson, as children proudly showed each other their backpacks.
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The ceremony also included members of the Ministry of Education that were pleased to be involved in such an undertaking.
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According to Simpson, this was the fifth project completed in the area in the past four months.
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Lincolnshire, Ill., native, Lt. Col. Rick Heyward, the commander of 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, applauded the hard work and cooperation of U.S. Forces and local government officials.
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Yet, he added, "This is a great project, but more importantly, we will not stop here. We have even more schools to open in the future."
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Written by Staff Sgt. Mark Burrell - Multi-National Division-Baghdad
Taken from the MNF-I website

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