Women's center serves Umm Qasr
Eric Leuffgen (left) and Emilio LaFontaine (right) look over the circuit breaker with Raad Salman, a contractor hoping to bid on the women's center.

UMM QASR - In southern Iraq, women are getting the opportunity to better themselves through the Umm Qasr Women's Center, where females have the chance to get an education and get into the work force.

"A lot of the women are begging for first aid and medic classes," said Basamah Aboud, assistant manager of the Umm Qasr Women's Clinic.

Computer, typing, sewing and needlepoint classes are taught at the center as well.
Women in the community are encouraged to come in and fill out applications for the classes, Aboud said. Once the class schedules are posted, the women begin calling each other to inform everyone about what is being offered.

The classes are free and attended by all kinds of women from the city, Aboud said. Since the teachers are volunteers, it allows an open environment for anyone to learn.

Contractors working with the 1st Infantry Division on Contingency Operating Base Basra are doing their part by repairing the facility.

"It's obvious they have had some major electrical problems," said Emilio LaFontaine, an electrical engineer working for the division. LaFontaine pointed to electrical arcing damage visible on the circuit breaker controlling the electricity to the building.

Along with electrical issues, the building itself needs an overhaul.

"There are cracks to be filled in," said Eric Leuffgen, a mechanical engineer with the 1st Inf. Div. Along with the needs for the main building, an additional conference room is being planned, which will require a new foundation to be poured first, he said.

The women's center has been operational since 2003, but the building, which was around and abandoned before that, has experienced a major overhaul since then, Aboud said.

Funds are to be obtained for contractor bids to get the center what it needs. LaFontaine and Leuffgen are creating a comprehensive plan of what needs to be done and an estimate of how much it may cost to bid out, they said.

"It's great to be out improving the area," LaFontaine said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16