DAHUK PROVINCE, Iraq, April 17, 2007 - Because the concept of kindergarten is a new one to Kurdish parents, enrollment in the Batel Kindergarten is just now filling up - a year after it opened its pink doors.

"It took parents a little time to decide if they wanted their children to try this new thing," said Mr. Muhammed Hassan, project engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Dahuk Area Office. With about 30 little ones attending classes today, Mr. Hassan said there are more than 100 students registered for the next session.

The school has six classrooms, windows, toilets, running water and electricity, a theater room with a small stage, an administrative room and a playground space outside for the kids to run and jump.

"They still need furniture," Mr. Hassan said, "but maybe there will be funding for that next year." The teachers and students are happy, however, to take their shoes off and sit on the carpet in the large, sunny classroom with modest school supplies and toys; reciting, counting and singing, as normal, happy children do.

"With or without furniture and supplies, this is a healthy environment for a good education for children," Mr. Hassan said.

As project engineer, Mr. Hassan provided quality assurance oversight on this completed reconstruction project, as well as three ongoing public health clinic projects in Dahuk.

A 132 kilovolt double circuit overhead transmission line from Dahuk to Aqra, an $18 million project, brings electricity directly from Turkey to more than 100 Kurdish villages in the Aqra area. Ezzat Khorsheed is the project's quality assurance engineer.

"The electricity is currently routed from Turkey through Mosul, then out to these remote villages," Khorsheed explained. "This project provides a more direct feed, increasing service availability to people in more than 100 villages." Currently, these residents have electricity four to five hours daily, he added.

There are 299 towers that dot the mountains, valleys and flatlands, from Dahuk to Aqra, that will change the direction of the power source from Mosul to the Dahuk substation. The project is a joint contractor venture, according to Khorsheed.