By CJTF-HOA Public AffairsSeptember 17, 2006
CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti - Members of the U.S. Marine Corps' 4th Provisional Security Company culminated a series of projects here recently by giving out donated school supplies at an elementary school in downtown Djibouti.While deployed here, the Marines took up a number of community service projects in the city from painting and preparing school classrooms to building a playground with a donated boat as the centerpiece. They also frequently visited local orphanages and provided hundreds of boxes of care packages to assist the caregivers working there.Along the way, the Marines gathered into their ranks Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen from Camp Lemonier and the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa to join in on the various projects.Marine Corps Capt. Garth Massey, executive officer, searched the area for these projects. Then during the scorching summer months, Massey gathered his troops and led them in completing several projects to the benefit of the surrounding community."I'm glad to see so many people show up to do this work," Massey said. "I'm grateful, and the students will be as well."For one recent project, more than 30 military personnel from Camp Lemonier painted several classrooms at a K-6 grade school in downtown Djibouti in preparation for the upcoming school year.Navy Senior Chief Kenneth Elliott said he was glad to help during the painting project. "If you look at these classrooms and compare them with the classrooms our kids have, you know how lucky we are," he said.Army Sgt. Rebecca Queen, of Parkersburg, W.V., who works in the Camp Lemonier Post Office, volunteered for the painting project as well. "I thought it would be fun and something out of the ordinary," she said. "But I found it interesting and want to do more projects like this one."The team also built a playground for the children of Douda elementary school Aug. 17.Massey said the idea to build the playground for the village school two kilometers from camp developed in July after the Marines saw some abandoned fishing boats along the roadside. After a bit of research, the Marines were given an old boat from the Djiboutian navy.In addition to the old boat now being used as a new a sandbox, the playground also includes monkey bars, swings, a slide, and animal-shaped spring rockers. The school children were too excited to wait for the playground to be completed and were playing on the slide as the volunteers painted and assembled other parts of the playground.All materials for the project came from spare parts found around camp or sent from family members back in the U.S., Massey said.Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Manuel Montoya, from Aliso Viejo, Calif., said the most rewarding part of participating in the project is the children's appreciation. "People here don't take things for granted," he said. "Back home, you give a kid a toy and it lasts about a day before they want something new. But here, they appreciate everything and you can see it in their smiles. It feels good," he said.Douda Village Chief, Ali Waberi, also took part in the fun, as he was the first to take a ride on the swing set. He also thanked the Marines and Soldiers for their efforts to improve the lives of the Douda children and said that kids will enjoy many happy times on the new playground. One shy 12 year-old boy said he was very happy about the new playground and his favorite part is the spring rockers.