The gift of education
November 10, 2009
BAGHDAD - Education is essential for a child growing up in the world today. That is no less true in Iraq, where schools are a building block for a child's future.
Three schools were officially re-opened here, Nov. 5, thanks to Multi-National Division Baghdad Soldiers.
The Shab Female School, Yassamin School and Monte Tenaybo Schools were in shambles before they came to the attention of Army civil affairs Soldiers, according to Staff Sgt. Frank Halstead, from Brooklyn, N.Y.
"All three schools had to be completely redone because they were a mess," he said. "They had to be painted and cleaned, the wiring had to be redone and the walls on the outside needed repair. Basically they were just the shells of buildings."
So Halstead and his fellow civil affairs Soldiers took up the contracts and set to work. They arranged for the repairs to be made and periodically checked the work to make sure things were being done to their specifications.
"We had to make sure they were done up to standard," said Halstead. "Finally it all came together and the people have schools now."
On opening day, the students gathered to sing songs and perform skits for the Soldiers and officials who came to see the work come to fruition.
"It feels pretty good because today you actually get to see the kids' reactions - it's not just a bunch of older people standing around talking to each other," said Halstead. "The kids were happy, they looked like they wanted to be in school, to me that's a good thing."
For 1st Lt. Lacey Rector, from Willoughby Hills, Ohio, assigned 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, the girls at Shab Female School were a welcome sight.
"It's nice to see females because you don't see them very often over here," she said. "It's nice to see that they are being educated as well."
The project is another example of the continued commitment of U.S. forces to helping the Iraqi people, according to Halstead.
"We're there to help them not to hurt them," he said. "They know if their children are being educated then that's going to help them in the long run. They appreciate it."
With three more schools operational in the Baghdad area, more children are getting the chance to better themselves and their communities by getting an education. It is one more thing that U.S. forces are doing to make Iraq a better place.