MANDRIN, Haiti (August 22, 2010)-Members of the Mandrin community gathered at the site of the newly constructed Madrin School building to celebrate the helping hand U.S. Army South's New Horizons mission has provided them Aug. 22.
"We are thanking you a lot for this nice school that you made for us," read a sign held by a local Haitian boy during the celebration. The school was built as part of U.S. Army South's New Horizons - Haiti mission. The engineering portion of the exercise has a goal of completing construction on three new schools and renovations on two other schools.
New Horizons is a U.S. Southern Command sponsored, U.S. Army South executed exercise consisting of Army National Guard, Army Reserve, and Active Army components, as well as U.S. Navy, and U.S. Air Force personnel.
The Mandrin School was completed and turned over to the community Aug. 20. The new school provides three classrooms, offices, and restrooms. This is a big improvement to previous years where students only had two tents that were used as classrooms.
"The community said we have been great neighbors," says Lt. Col John-Michael Wells, Task Force Kout Men civil affairs officer. "They feel we have respected and mutually supported each other. We provided the community with a new school, medical treatment and jobs. They in turn provided us with labor, interpreters, advice and land they have leased to us."
The community is aware that the New Horizons mission is coming to a close for this year, so they gathered to show their appreciation to the task force through their singing and dancing.
The children danced and sang while adults played horns and drums. They held up signs that said "Long live America!" and "Welcome U.S. Army."
"The people are so happy we are here they don't want to see us leave," says Capt. Wesly Leandre, Task Force Kout Men assistance civil affairs officer. "The people don't have much, but they wanted to give their thanks the best way they can, through dance and music."