FALLUJAH, Iraq --
The Fallujah Public Radio Station kicked off its new children’s education program January 19, at the Fallujah Building Development Center.
This weekly, hour-long programming is a promising step for the city’s road back to normalcy, said Ali Hadi Salah Alfhdawi, the director of Fallujah Public Radio.
“Children are the future; having this (radio program) means our children can continue learning outside of school. It will cover many useful topics that are pertinent to the children’s daily lives such as general hygiene, healthcare and proper manners,” Alfhdawi said through an interpreter.
More than 300 children filed into the neatly rowed aisles of folding chairs inside the Development Center. Cheers roared and applauses thundered throughout the room as students participated in reading poems, singing, and listening to stories. A big-screen television was rolled in for the children to watch an episode of an American cartoon classic, “Tom and Jerry.”
“Our hope is to host events like this every month,” said Alfhdawi with a beaming smile across his face.
Plans are currently in the works for more radio programs, including one where physicians from all over Fallujah will be invited to come in the studio and answer questions from residents via a caller hotline.
“Programs like these are possible because of Fallujah’s stable security situation. We owe the Marines in our city for that,” said Alfhdawi. “A few years ago, Fallujah was filled with chaos, thanks to the Marines; we can now turn our efforts to positively shaping our children’s futures.”
Marines of Regimental Combat Team 1, with warm smiles, handed out coloring books, stickers, and candy to the more than 300 children in attendance.
“It’s great to finally see kids just being kids,” said Navy Ensign Peter M. Bruss, an Information Officer with RCT-1. “They’ve seen some rough times in this city, and for them to be able to come out and just spend a few hours coloring, reading and watching cartoons says volumes of the progress that’s being made here.”
Although the Marines were on hand, they played a very subtle roll in the day’s events.
“The city is doing this all by itself; providing its own security, its own funding, and the idea for this whole program. We’re just here to hand out the little things they simply don’t have enough of, like school supplies for every child,” Bruss said.
With each week, schools are being rebuilt, local business’s reopening and residents of Fallujah are getting back to their daily routines.
“We are continually accomplishing our goals here and making this country a safer place,” Bruss said.