People of Nicaragua celebrate U.S. Army South's humanitarian mission
May 4, 2010
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (May 4, 2010) - The town of Los Sanchez, Nicaragua celebrated U.S. Army South's humanitarian mission, Beyond the Horizon, with an Appreciation Day last week.
Beyond the Horizon, a humanitarian and civic assistance mission in Nicaragua, provides focused medical and engineering support to the people of the region. The Los Sanchez community decided to thank members of Army South, along with Navy engineers, better known as Seabees, from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 25, out of Fort McCoy, Wis., for completing a water well on April 23.
"We are happy because of the well. It is something that we could never have done by ourselves and we wanted to show our appreciation in some way," said Susana Rocha, with the Comite del Desarroyo Comunal of Los Sanchez. "The entire community pitched in, 10 cordoba here, 20 cordoba there, and we bought the food and prepared it to show our appreciation and love that we have for our U.S. Army and Nicaraguan Army brothers."
During the appreciation day, the entire community came out to thank the members of Army South and NMCB 25. The community even had Los Alegres del Sur, a Nicaraguan Marimba band, perform for the troops.
The community and its leaders were there from the beginning to support the Beyond the Horizon mission. In the first days of well-digging in Los Sanchez, discovering water proved to be difficult, however that didn't stop the community from providing assistance.
"When our first two well attempts at Los Sanchez failed, it was the local community leaders that really stepped up and made access to another site possible," said Ens. Joe Neal, Officer in Charge of NMCB 25. "They really drove it home for us as to how important this mission is. They truly embraced us and made us feel welcome."
Indeed, this mission was important to the people of Los Sanchez.
"This well is important to us because it has been over a year since we have had clean drinking water," said Rocha. "The river that we use to wash our clothes is contaminated and some people develop a rash from wearing the clothes washed in that water."
Not only has this mission been of benefit to the people of Los Sanchez, but it also provides an opportunity to work in partnership with the Nicaraguan military, as well as provide a real-world training environment for U.S. military service members.
"This project is important to the US Navy Seabees because we will have gained valuable water well drilling experience. More importantly though, on a broader scale, by drilling these wells we are adding to the building blocks of a strong, positive and friendly relationship between our countries," said Neal.
The members of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 25 also provided engineering support to two other communities in Nicaragua, Samaria and La Noria. The engineers arrived in Nicaragua March 11 to begin preparations for the digging and construction of the three wells with the final well completion in La Noria on May 21.
"Working with the Nicaraguans on all levels has been excellent," said Neal. "From the Nicaraguan Army to our drivers to the local community leaders, it's been exciting and refreshing. If we get another chance to come back and work with the Nicaraguans again in the future, we'd do it a heartbeat."