By U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Benjamin RaughtonOctober 3, 2016
A team from the 403rd Civil Affairs Battalion, assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, traveled to Dikhil, Djibouti, and met with village elders and community members Sept. 27, 2016, to learn about the education and general welfare of an existing school system in the village.
During their visit, the CA BN team gauged the community's response to a new schoolhouse being built as part of a humanitarian assistance project.
"We go out there and try to gather general information about the village to determine what projects are needed, how they're progressing, and whether or not those projects are meeting their desired effects and intent," said U.S. Army Capt. Cory Meyers, team chief assigned to the 403rd CA BN. "Our mission is to establish a relationship with the population of not just Dikhil, but Djibouti at large."
Meyers said a major benefit of having an additional schoolhouse is more classrooms. This provides additional space for the nomadic population to educate their children.
"We have a lot of children, and every year they increase," said Yasin Koumeneh, a Dhikil village elder with five children, two of whom are students. "For this area, it's normal for [children] to come to school from three or four kilometers early in the morning."
Facilitating education and literacy in Djibouti will promote an atmosphere of more skilled and prepared students, creating better opportunities for jobs upon graduation, Meyers said.
Dikhil's current school buildings can hold around 450 children a day, and Koumeneh hopes the new facility will provide education for 300 more students. Dikhil schools are more than 30 years old, and many students attend classes in the same buildings their parents once did, Koumeneh said.
"I hope this gives the new generation a new chance," he said. "They have a chance to get a new [building], and I hope our children will feel it's a good thing, too."