Village Of Hope

March 11, 2008

After many months of being oppressed by al-Qaeda, many places around Iraq are beginning to come to life. The markets are reopened, citizens fill the streets without fearing for their lives and many people are returnng to work and school. In one community in southern Baghdad, that has never been so evident. The community of Hawr Rajab is returning to normalcy after months of being terrorized by al-Qaeda operatives.

Because security in Hawr Rajab has improved so much, Troops and the Iraqis themselves are beginning to focus their attention on rebuilding the economy. One such rebuilding project, the “Village of Hope,” is a vocational school that is designed to teach the students attending there, the basics of construction. They recently had 50 students enroll for classes.

Troops from the 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division are providing security at the construction sites where the students are attending clsses. The classes are taught by US Air Force Airmen who are in related occupational specialties. The Airmen/teachers are part of the 557th Expeditionary Red Horse Squadron, who are headquartered at Balad Air Base. About 30 members conduct classes at the Village of Hope, from Patrol Base Stone, that is located in the heart of Hawr Rajab. As new as it is for the students, who are just now learning the basics of construction, the new task is also new for the instructors, who had to change their mindset from pounding nails to teaching others how to do it.

“As builders, we are more attuned to seeing a completed structure or physical progress at the end of the work day,” said Tech. Sgt Jacob Wilcock. “Teaching is very rewarding but the reward is seeing the students understand the lesson and do well on a practical exercise.”

The program, which will be taught f the course of three months to the students, will teach them not only the basics of building, but during that time, they’ll also be working to rebuild homes that were damaged or destroyed by extremists. Rebuilding homes is one part of their lesson plan. As an added incentive, students are paid for the work they do while attending classes.

“The students are very receptive, ecstatic and happy about the school,” said Capt. Josh Aldred, the Village of Hope project manager. “They are very grateful and fully understand that we’re here to help.”

Local businesses also benefit from the Village of Hope school. As projects are started, once classroom time is completed, materials that are needed for a building project, that are available locally, will be purchased from the local vendors. To further ensure that they have a steady supply of building materials, the Provincial Reconstruction Team awarded a micro-grant to a local brick and concrete block maker in order to aid him in improving his business. Advice was also given to the brick maker and his employees on how to make his products more efficiently.

“He’s been making blocks for long time and does good work,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Richard Knapp, the Army/Air Force Liason. “We just showed him how to improve the products he puts out.”

The coalition Troops who are working on the project can see the great benefits of the work they’re doing. They’re able to see physical and tangible progrss, improvement and change and have the knowledge that they’re helping the citizens of Hawr Rajab change their lives for the better, by helping them to learn marketable employment skills. This project is yet another thing that our Troops are doing to help improve the lives of the Iraqi people that they come into contact with and yet more evidence of the great work our Troops are doing every day.



2 Responses to “Village Of Hope”

  1. Help and Advice » Blog Archive » Village Of Hope on March 11th, 2008 2:29 am

    [...] Read the rest of this great post here [...]

  2. David M on March 11th, 2008 12:23 pm

    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 03/11/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day…so check back often.

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