AL KALADIYAH, Iraq -- Children from Al Kaladiyah will now have more of a reason to attend school thanks to the Marines from 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment's Civil Affair Group.
The civil affairs team delivered pallets of bottled water, toys, clothes and school supplies donated by Spirit of America, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization. What the kids like most, though, was the playground equipment for the children Marines began to install.
Where there was once a barren dirt lot, now stands the fancy of every Iraqi child.
Inside the school playground stood a set of monkey bars, swing sets, balance beams, seesaws, and a merry-go-round.
"This is a good tool to give to children, an opportunity for children to have a childhood they never had before," said Gunnery Sgt. Noe Villa, the staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the team. "Little by little we will make it happen."
The CAG team plans on helping one school a week for the next twelve weeks. They started with the schools that need the most help and make improvements to it.
The team will paint, refurbish, fix the electricity and have clean running water in the school for the children.
"It's a nice feeling doing this," said Cpl. Grand K. Lee. "I wanted to do something nice for this country and positive for these kids and their education.
"I'm very happy for what I've seen in the past," he added. "The kids were running and screaming when we gave them the school supplies."
According to Marines on the CAG team, this is the second school they assisted.
"You could see the difference in the kids," Villa said "Their reaction was overwhelming and their faces just sparkled with excitement."
"These are darling little kids," said Sgt. Brandon Kovach, a CAG team leader. "This is what it's all about, seeing smiles on their faces."
The ceremony followed with the Marines handing out school supplies and Marines playing with the children, showing them pictures of family members back home.
"This is symbolic for the children. It shows that we are not trying to destroy their country or change their culture," Villa said. "It is an opportunity for people to have a normal life and children to be children.
There's been too many years of tyranny and suffering for them," Villa said. "It's a new beginning for the little kids as well, not just the Iraqi people."