By Sgt. Jason Stadel, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
March 31, 2008 - Citizens who once were afraid to leave their homes because terrorists were among them freely gathered March 26 to celebrate the grand opening of a middle school and health clinic in Adwaniyah, Iraq. Much of the work was done using Commander's Emergency Response Program funds, and although coalition forces assisted in rebuilding the school and clinic, the Iraqi government was key to the projects' success, officials said.
The Iraqi government has recognized the school and clinic, officials added, and will keep teachers and medical professionals working at each location.
One soldier at Patrol Base Dolby, near Adwaniyah, is pleased to see the Iraqis taking charge of their community and said educating Iraq's children is essential to rebuilding the country.
"They will eventually inherit this country," said 2nd Lt. Steven Kim, a platoon leader in the 3rd Infantry Division's Troop B, 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team. "Giving the kids an education will help them learn how to make their country better."
An Iraqi Health Ministry doctor said the clinic will offer Adwaniyah residents basic medical care, such as preventive medicine, vaccinations and maternal care, and also will treat minor dental problems and basic illnesses.
"We all want to do what we can to address some of the medical needs in Adwaniyah," Dr. Saud Abdullah said. "This clinic will help Adwaniyah." For major surgeries and traumas, residents still will need to go to hospitals in Mahmudiyah and Baghdad.
Happiness at improving their city was apparent as citizens smiled and shook hands with U.S. and Iraqi soldiers and Iraqi government officials.
Kim said it was a good day for the troops.
"You get to know the people," the Los Angeles native said. "I'm happy for them; it's good to see their community improve."
(Army Sgt. Jason Stadel serves in the 3rd Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.)