Some of the renovations included setting up the school yard and soccer field, revamping the electric and plumbing, putting in new bathrooms, tiling, painting the exterior and interior, and repairs to the ceiling, windows and doors, said Ghanim, headmaster for the school, through a translator.
The school supplies students received were donated by the Family Readiness Group of 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, from the unit’s home station, Fort Drum, N.Y., said Armstrong.
One young male student pointed at his chest and then pointed at the chest of one of the Iraqi soldiers, telling a U.S. soldier, “It’s good,” before receiving his supplies. The Iraqi soldier patted the boy on his shoulder and returned his smile.
“It helps to show that the Iraqi army cares about the local population, the children, their safety and well-being,” said Armstrong.
Such events reassure the locals and help gain their support in cleaning up their neighborhoods and making them safer, added Taum. The students represent Iraq’s future and events like this help reassure them of their government and provide hope for a better tomorrow.
“I am very happy because you fix our school and our country,” said Ali, a fourth grader at the school, through a translator. He also proudly held up his new school supplies, pointing excitedly.
The children put on a loud and boisterous performance which included the singing of the Iraqi national anthem for the soldiers, and engaged soldiers in conversation, high-fives, antics, smiles and laughter.
“Seeing and hearing the Iraqi children sing and show their appreciation is a benefit of doing these missions,” said Taum. “Having an event where the school officials and the Iraqi army work together sets the conditions for future humanitarian missions and greater cooperation.”
Imeena, a teacher at the school, expressed her thanks to the Iraqi government and the American soldiers, adding that the children and teachers have more hope for the future.
“I was very glad by what happened today,” said Ghanim. “The neighborhood is very pleased about the renovations done on this school. This project will strengthen our bonds.
“I entered education because of my love of teaching and of the children. Those kids will grow up and they will be the future.”