Construction Electrician 2nd Class Justin Johnson repairs a light fixture at the Balbala primary school in Djibouti on May 31.
DJIBOUTI (June 12, 2008) — U.S. Servicemembers here gathered an assortment of materials and construction skills to make repairs to the Balbalas primary school.
Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 74, based out of Gulfport, Miss., and Soldiers from the 412th Civil Affairs Battalion, based out of Columbus, Ohio, replaced light fixtures, hinges and hasps on shutters, fixed doorframes and repaired a water pump and cistern during an ongoing project at the school that is expected to be completed in June. The soldiers and sailors are deployed to Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa.
“I enjoy coming out and working on projects like this. I like to get out and help the community,” said Builder 2nd Class Kevin Bragwell, NMCB 74 crewmember. “Plus, every time we come out here, there’s something different to do.”
This was the first time Army Capt. Sikiru Kafaru, 412th CA BN team leader, worked side by side with Seabees. Kafaru said this was an “outstanding” experience.
“For us it’s an exciting thing,” he said. “We appreciate the Seabees getting involved.”
Without NMCB 74’s involvement, the 412th CA BN would have just donated the materials. Instead, by using the construction force’s building expertise, the crew is able to complete the many small projects and spend more time interacting with the community.
“It’s a good thing,” said Bragwell. “We get good reactions, especially from the children. They are excited to see us.”
Housssin Abdi Ali, a fourth grade teacher at Balbalas, agrees. He said the Soldiers and Seabees having a presence at the school helps build the relationship between Djibouti and the U.S.
Ali also said he hopes the improvements can help the school accommodate more than 2,000 students it already teaches.
“If you are not educated, you are blind. That’s why this is so important,” he said.