AR RAMADI, Iraq -- As pink and purple ribbon fell to the ground, the joyful cheers of children rose in celebration of the re-opening of their future.
Led by the West Central Ramadi District Council (WCRDC), the residents of the Al Warar neighborhood of Ar Ramadi, Iraq, held a grand re-opening, ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Al Adel Boys School, March 26.
Saad Hamid Sharqi, of the WCRDC, cut the ribbon to officially re-open the all-boys school after a month-long renovation project led by local residents.
To many in attendance, the happy students cheering the ceremony demonstrated common feelings toward the venture, and its effect on the community.
“Our children are an example of the progress here in Ramadi,” said Saad.
Spearheaded by Sheikh Raad Sabah Mklief, the leader of the local Al Awani Tribe, the $47,000 renovation project repaired walls, added heating/cooling units to the offices, repaired water tanks, installed a new water pump, replaced all doors and windows, repaired stairways, and expanded the school in size.
With the project closely tied to the development of children in the community, the renovation received tremendous support from residents in the area.
“Approximately 200 local residents did the work,” said Warrant Officer Eric M. Strause, 37-year-old civil affairs officer for 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment.
Started at the end of November in 2006, and completed in mid January of 2007, the project was a high priority for the community.
Prior to the renovation, the facility was only able to support 100 students for one session per day, four days per week, which provided for only one fifth of the student population in the area.
The limited capabilities of the school required surrounding facilities to overcrowd their own classes by taking on the excess children.
The hardships produced by the sub-standard facility also lessened the quality of instruction teachers were able to provide to the children.
“This project was vital to lessen the burden on surrounding schools and to ensure the children in the area receive the level of education they need,” said Strause, a native of Fredericksburg, Texas.
Now that the project is complete, the renewed Al Adel Boys School provides four classes per day, four days per week for more than 500 children from the neighborhood.
The success of the project is now widely known in the district, and more renovations and reconstructions are due to begin throughout the city.
The improvements happening through the work of the people, the council and local security forces has caused a stir amongst the residents of the city.
“I hear on a daily basis how the people are excited about what is going on,” said Saad. “The people have faith that we represent their interests.”