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Local Iraqi children from the Abu Saleh area of Fallujah, play together July 5, near their school where they attend classes during the school year. Marines with Detachment 3, Civil Affairs Group 3, Regimental Combat Team 1, oversee the construction project of this local communities school being rebuilt.

Photo by Cpl. Chris T. Mann

Partnership ensures progress

5 Jul 2008 | Cpl. Chris T. Mann

Community members can look outside each morning and see signs of change in their neighborhoods. Small but significant beacons of hope are brought on by new construction projects appearing all over the city.

To aid a city rising from the ashes of war, Marines with Detachment 3, Civil Affairs Group 3, Regimental Combat Team 1, met with Iraqi contractors and construction workers July 5 to continue to help facilitate the laborers’ efforts in building a new school for the children in the Abu Saleh area of Fallujah.

The new school will replace the older one that was falling apart due to weather and collateral damage inflicted during battles between insurgents and Coalition forces.

The detachment oversees reconstruction projects such as this one, in hopes that the children in Fallujah can return to school and lead a normal life.

“The old building was falling apart and students couldn’t go to school when it rained because the teachers were afraid that the roof would collapse on them,” said Lance Cpl. Greg W. Holt, a 19-year-old civil affairs operations assistant from Auburn, Calif.

The school will include two floors and 12 new classrooms, and house up to 350 students in Kindergarten through sixth grade.

Marines with the civil affairs group have been coordinating for months with the school headmasters and the Iraqi Administration of Education to ensure the new building will be a success for the students.

The detachment also took the time to meet with “Brothers for Building,” a company that works hand-in-hand with Marines from RCT-1 and the Iraqi Administration of Education.

“We have started working really closely with the Iraqi government so eventually they can take over future projects such as this one,” said 2nd Lt. Michael B. Robison, Detachment 3’s team leader from Sierra Madre, Calif. “This project is an example of a patronage project where a tribal leader spearheads an activity to help a community.”

A sheik and tribal leader known by coalition members as “Dark,” owns the building company and has worked with Marines in previous years to help with several similar projects. 

The Fallujah City Council votes on building plans and takes bids from trusted contractors. The Marine Corps has worked with the Iraqi government, ensuring workers are up to standards. Now, Marines are hoping the torch will be passed, and that the Iraqi government will take charge of future projects.

“We hope to get the local people less focused on the Marines helping them, and look to the Iraqi government for support for the community,” said Robison.

The school’s construction is scheduled to be finished Aug. 20.