TONGONI, Tanzania -- Representatives and servicemembers from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, in conjunction with the government of Tanzania, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania, attended a dedication ceremony at the Tongoni Primary School, July 30, 2009.

More than 800 students, parents, teachers and local residents of Tanga Village attended the ceremony to celebrate the $186,000 in improvements to three previously existing school buildings, as well as construction and refurbishment of three staff houses with associated bathrooms.

CJTF-HOA Deputy Commander Brig. Gen. Chris Leins, the guest speaker for the dedication, said it is a united effort worldwide for parents to provide good education for their children.

"The Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa and U.S. Africa Command, together with the Tanzanian People's Defense Force, are proud to have played a role in the renovation of the Tongoni (Primary) School, and we hope this community benefits from the work here for many years to come," Leins said.

The ceremony included performances of song, dance and poems in thanks for the improvements the school received. There was also a tree-planting, as well as a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

"By providing a better environment for the children and a nicer place for them to go to school, it will encourage them to continue to go to school," said Army Reserve Capt. Bernice Logan, a Civil Affairs team leader. "Building security capacity and by providing the children with better education, it will give them a better opportunity to make better decisions."

Logan, a Michigan native and a member of the 414th Civil Affairs Battalion, has been deployed seven months to CJTF-HOA and says it has been an honor and privilege to come to Tanzania and work with the community and the Tanzanian people.

The more than 325 students enrolled will benefit from the refurbished school which was established in 1972 and has an estimated student population of more than 550 children in the Tanga Village, according to printed materials provided at the dedication.

"The environment was not good at all for educational purposes," said City Education Officer Ramadhani Mvugalo. "Now, it is an ideal place for teaching and learning."

Author's note: CJTF-HOA, which is headquartered in Djibouti, works hand-in-hand with local government officials to help communities in 13 countries throughout the Horn of Africa. The mission of the task force is one of promoting regional stability through defense, diplomacy and development; a 3-D concept intended to counter violent extremism through increased stability. CJTF-HOA and its Civil Affairs teams are responsive to the needs of the Tanzanian government, Ministry of Education and the local leaders who provide guidance on school project selection.