Nov. 12, 2007

School opening brightens the future for Iraqi children

Iraqi children sing for coalition forces at the new school opening in Muhammad al Manshad, Iraq. (Photo by Spc. Jaime Avila, 1st BCT, 82nd Abn. Div.)

By Spc. Jaime Avila
1st BCT, 82nd Abn. Div.

MUHAMMAD AL MANSHAD, Iraq – The children of Iraq are the future and a leading factor in developing the country. The opening of a new school is always a sign of aspiration for Iraq and her people.

“For the children and parents it means hope, hope for the children’s future… education is the key to them having a quality and prosperous future,” said Lt. Col. Gregory M. Barrow, a Fort Worth, Texas native and commander of the 3rd Battalion, 144th Infantry Regiment.

In addition to giving the children optimism for their future, this event also helps them see that Iraq and Coalition Forces are trying to make their future better. It shows them how a government is supposed to work for them.

“More than anything, I think this gives the children the chance to see how the system is supposed to work with a direct impact on them. I also hope that they can see that having a clean, functional school helps them learn and enjoy going to school,” said Capt. Ryan E. Thompson, a Richmond, Va., native and commander for Company A, 116th BSTB.

An Iraqi boy gives a U.S. Soldier on guard duty a souvenir during the new school opening ceremony. (Photo by Spc. Jaime Avila, 1st BCT, 82nd Abn. Div.)

Virginia National Guard troops from Company A, 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division recently had the opportunity to help with the opening of a school in Muhammad al Manshad, Iraq.

“I thought the school opening was a success. It displayed how with the cooperation of the local government, the sheiks, school officials and the assistance of coalition forces, they can produce a quality end result, which these children will be able to enjoy for several years,” said Barrow.

The opening of this school gives the children of Muhammad al Manshad an education to look forward to in a new school.

“I think it certainly is a step in the right direction. The fact that the local population asked for this project, conducted the construction work and had so many of the local sheiks in attendance, demonstrated that they truly are trying to make a difference in this particular area of operations,” said Thompson.

The Iraqi people took the lead in this project, showing Iraq is becoming a more independent and resourceful country.

“Alpha Company, 116th BSTB, who is attached to us, has been assisting and facilitating the contracts and the construction of that school, but it is a 100 percent funded and built Iraqi project,” said Barrow.

Thompson and his men also helped with opening of the school by providing security while the children, school personnel and Soldiers attended the school’s opening ceremony.

Tribal leadership does the honors as the new school in Muhammad al Manshad, Iraq is officially opened. (Photo by Spc. Jaime Avila, 1st BCT, 82nd Abn. Div.)

“I think it is important to remember why we are here in Iraq. Our purpose is to help provide security so that Iraq can build their government and eventually take over all of the functions of government that is expected of them. Any

helping hand we can give them is always encouraging,” said Thompson.

During the ceremony, children sang songs, read poems and handed cake and candy to the Soldiers and guests in attendance.

“I thought it was absolutely incredible. I was impressed by the presentation that the principal, teachers and school children put on. You could see the pride in their faces and how excited they were to show off their school and what they have learned. It was done very well and it was very rewarding to see that kind of progress in this area,” said Thompson.


A small Iraqi boy sings for coalition forces at the new school opening ceremony. (Photo by Spc. Jaime Avila, 1st BCT, 82nd Abn. Div.)



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