KAISERSLAUTERN, GERMANY - In Bosnia, a primary school for kids with special needs is getting a facelift thanks to the initiatives of the 409th Contracting Support Brigade here.

A contracting team from the unit is supporting the local community by overseeing the management of the renovation of two schools in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Soldiers, currently deployed at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, saw an opportunity to help the communities of Glamoc and Sarajevo.

Maj. Marc Nguyen, 409th CSB contracting officer, understood the need for school repairs. He attended a small elementary school in a village in Chu Hai, Vietnam, where the buildings were in dire need of repair after the Vietnam War.

"I can relate to the children yearning to have the opportunity for an education in a safe and welcoming environment to learn and thrive," he said.

The Mjedenica School for children with intellectual disabilities in Sarajevo and the Fra Franjo Glavinic Elementary School in Glamoc received renovations that included the repair and replacement of their existing metal roofs, insulation, new energy efficient thermal fa├žades as well as new windows, doors and interior paint.

"It is certain that the works will significantly improve the quality of everyday work of our teachers and other staff," said Mirsad Asimovi, principal, Mjedenica School.

Nguyen agrees.

"This is going to provide a stronger structure that is safer and more comfortable for the special needs children and the school staff," said Nguyen.

The Sarajevo school educates more than 400 children and the Glamoc school educates more than 300.

"Della Hodges, the Area Support Team Balkans director for Camp Bondsteel, encouraged us to contact the U.S. Embassies in our area of responsibility and to seek out humanitarian assistance projects," said Nguyen.

The team reached out to the American Embassy in Bosnia and got in contact with the Office of Defense Cooperation.

"We found out that there were two humanitarian assistance projects scheduled and we were told to contact the U.S. European Command," remarked Nguyen.

After coordination with EUCOM, the project was approved and funded in June 2013.

After approval of the project, the contracting team began its work.

"We are on the ground doing site visits, talking with the contractor and making sure the work is being done in accordance with the contract," said Nguyen.

"Because the facade was so degraded, every day there was is a threat of falling shards that could injure students, teachers, parents and visitors," he added. "The local government had no funds for such a large volume of work to be carried out.

"Seeing the excitement in the children's eyes and the warm welcome of their smiles during site visits, I feel truly blessed and I am full of gratitude to have been a part of these projects," said Nguyen.

Page last updated Wed September 25th, 2013 at 00:00