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CJTF-HOA, Kenyans dedicate safe school

By Staff Sgt Jennifer Redente U.S. Air Force, CJTF-HOA

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Navy Capt. John R. Andresen, shows Manda Bay primary school students a photo of them on his camera. Andresen and members from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa were visiting with students and faculty members prior to the dedication ceremony held by the Manda Bay community and CJTF-HOA, Feb. 18. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jennifer Redente)
Navy Capt. John R. Andresen, shows Manda Bay primary school students a photo of them on his camera. Andresen and members from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa were visiting with students and faculty members prior to the dedication ceremony held by the Manda Bay community and CJTF-HOA, Feb. 18. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jennifer Redente)

March 6, 2008 — MANDA ISLAND, Kenya (Feb. 29, 2008) – Members of the Manda Bay community and Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa held a dedication for Manda Bay Primary School on Feb. 18 celebrating the completion of the school’s new facilities assisting in educating Kenya’s future leaders.

Manda Bay’s pre-existing schoolhouse presented a danger to the students and teachers due the poor structure, which had been threatened to be closed down by Kenyan authorities because of the unstable columns supporting the roof, as well as a faulty foundation.

More than 200 residents of the Lamu District attended the dedication to celebrate the completion of the school.

Community leaders who spoke at the event included Kennedy Sakwa, Lamu District education officer, George Omolo, Lamu district commissioner representative, and Issa Kibwana, Manda Bay primary school head teacher who spoke about their appreciation to the 402nd Civil Affairs Battalion Civil Affairs Team 14 and the United States for the assistance in providing a safe facility for the children and staff.

“Thanks to the American government, today Manda can stand tall and strive for a better future,” said Issa Kibwana, Manda Bay primary school head teacher.

Before the school’s construction, there were 103 students enrolled. With the new, safe environment of the newly-constructed facilities, there are 177 students enrolled in the primary school.

“The United States, with the assistance of the civil affairs team, has done a wonderful job, and we really appreciate it,” said Kibwana.

CJTF-HOA began planning and coordinating to demolish the existing eight-classroom building, storeroom, and boys’ and girls’ latrines in 2006, for the only primary school on Manda Island. The nomination was then submitted in 2007, where a contractor was selected for the project.

In August, the dilapidated buildings were demolished to make room for a safe and secure educational environment. The project was overseen by the CJTF-HOA Operations engineer for Kenya.

“A part of CJTF-HOA’s mission is to stabilize the region by bringing education to the children,” said Navy Lt. Marcia C. Fernandes, CJTF-HOA Operations engineer for Kenya. “Children were still attending the school even though it wasn’t safe. Some parents elected to send their children to other islands to live with family members, so they could attend safer school structures.”

Construction of two new, five-classroom buildings with storerooms, two four-stall, dry-pit latrine facilities and an administrative building, surrounded with perimeter security fencing, were completed in January.

Additional improvements to the school grounds included renovating the staff’s two-stall, dry-pit latrine and clearing grounds for three courts, so children will be able to play volleyball, soccer and netball – an addition to the school grounds, which had no playgrounds prior to the construction.

Navy Capt. Brian R. Hastings, CJTF-HOA strategic communications director, spoke during the dedication on behalf CJTF-HOA and Navy Rear Admr. Philip H. Greene, Jr., CJTF-HOA commander, to address the Manda Bay community on the importance of education and the relationship with Kenya and the United States.

“We celebrate the partnership between CJTF-HOA and the people of Manda Bay primary school,” said Hastings. “Working with Kenya, this project is an excellent example of how Americans and Kenyans partner to promote peace and stability.

“We celebrate the new educational opportunities this school will provide,” he said. “We share an appreciation for what education can accomplish. Yes, it can advance the lives of the young people here today, but it can also educate a generation that will advance society, the nation and ultimately the world.”

Hastings highlighted on the importance of education and welfare of the Kenyan youth and future generations. He concluded his remarks with speaking to the children.

“Education is a priceless gift, and I ask you, the children, to remember the education you receive is from your parents, teachers, Kenya and the United States,” Hastings said. “Honor them by creating a better place in the world.”