Story and photos by Maj. Scott Bell, TF Kout Men PAO
MANDERIN, Haiti – In partnership with the Government of Haiti, a New Horizons-Haiti 2010 school renovation project in Manderin near Gonaives, Haiti began taking shape this week as students from the school began their summer break.
Leading the new Manderin school engineering project is La. National Guardsman Sgt. 1st Class Roland Dupree of Marksville. His engineering troops from Task Force “Kout Men,” Creole for “Helping Hands” demolished the old structure earlier this week and began laying the foundation for the new school and bathrooms. “Their pretty much going from a three-room shack to a nice, three-room school that doubles as a hurricane shelter,” said Dupree.
The local Haitian population regularly visits the school site, talk with the Soldiers and U.S. Navy Seabees who are constructing it and feel the school will help their children go further in life. “Even though we are old, our children will be able to get an education so they can go and find better jobs than we have had,” said Fremio Pierre of Manderin.
After interacting with the local Haitian population, Avoyelles area Soldiers believe they needed to come here. First Sgt. Jeffrey Carmouche of Marksville called the cause “great.” Sgt. Danny Heyward of Alexandria believes the Haitians really appreciate it. “You always have a crowd of people here watching us,” said Heyward.
Staff Sgt. Shane Gore, who has served on three other New Horizons projects in Honduras and Belize feels the New Horizons-Haiti 2010 humanitarian effort is unique. “The people here have so little that it makes me feel really proud to see these kids smile knowing they’re getting a new school. It makes you appreciate what we have back home in the U.S.,” said Gore.
The Manderin engineering project is one of four currently taking place near Gonaives in the Artibonite Department from June through September.
The goal of the New Horizons mission is to provide tangible humanitarian engineer and medical assistance to the people of Haiti and support long-term U.S. recovery operations in Haiti while supporting the readiness of U.S. forces. Better government-to-government and people-to-people relations mean better responses to the challenges that face our partners in Haiti.
POC for Task Force Kout Men is Maj. Scott Bell at HTI 3762-5622 or US (305) 898-2096, or firstname.lastname@example.org.