April 30, 2008 —
Local leaders cut the ribbon signifying the opening of the Salman Pak Girls Secondary School, April 24, in Salman Pak, Iraq.
FOB HAMMER (April 29, 2008) — The only secondary school for girls in the Salman Pak area opened its doors with a ribbon-cutting ceremony April 24.
Leaders of the Salman Pak Council, the Iraqi Army, the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment and 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, gathered in Salman Pak for the ceremony, which marked the completion of a $200,000 project initiated Feb. 28.
Members of the Salman Pak Council brought the decrepit school to the attention of 1-15th Inf. Regt. leadership in January. The school was in disrepair and local leaders’ desire to improve educational facilities matched the goals of the battalion leadership.
“We were looking for a big school to refurbish to make an impact,” said Capt. Matt Givens, from Columbus, Ga., the civil-military operations officer for 1-15th Inf. Regt. “It was the only female secondary school in the area. Before the refurbishment, the school was pretty much falling down. It had no electricity and students couldn’t use the restrooms.”
Givens said the project completely overhauled the building. Iraqi contractors repaired structural damage, erected a security wall, rewired electrical outlets, replastered the outside and repainted the inside.
Two of the most significant improvements were connecting the restrooms to a septic tank and the construction of a concrete courtyard.
“Unpaved courtyards get quite muddy when it rains,” said Givens, who has facilitated 13 different school refurbishment projects during his unit’s 14-month deployment. “School administrators commonly ask for concrete courtyards for assemblies and recreation.”
Givens said these projects make a difference in the community.
“People view it as you’re helping take care of their children and it helps to build trust within the community,” he said. “They are excited when they see you helping their children.”