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Gunnery Sgt Gary M. Gonzalez, 40, from La Puente, Calif., who is the team chief with Civil Affairs Team 5, Detachment 1, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, signs the paperwork on the final payment of the Hassah School renovation project in Hassah, Iraq, Nov. 30. The school is the only educational facility in the town and therefore receives heavy usage from the townâ??s youth. The renovations the school received will help it provide a better education. ::r::::n::

Photo by Lance Cpl. Paul Torres

Hassah School makes room

5 Dec 2008 | Lance Cpl. Paul Torres

A proper education empowers the young.

In the town of Hassah, Iraq, children run across a concrete slab to form up outside their classrooms. The once crowded facility is now equipped to provide over 500 students with a place where they can receive an education.

The school was originally built to be a boys’ primary school. Since it opened, both boys and girls have been allowed to attend, and extra high-school level courses have been added to the curriculum.  However the additional classes have led to overcrowding. Thanks to a few renovations, the facility can now comfortably fit all of its students.

“When we started working on the facility, the maintenance had been neglected for a long time,” said Hashem Aftan Farhan, the main contractor for the school project. “There was a lot of trash and debris, and the electrical and plumbing systems were in need of repair.”

Farhan, who has worked with Coalition forces on previous jobs, was able to finish this project almost 15 days ahead of schedule, even with some additions to the original scope of work.

“When I am doing work for the military, they want precision work executed quickly, and they know I am good at delivering a project,” said Farhan.

Marines with Civil Affairs Team 5, Detachment 1, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5 made the final payment on the school project signifying its completion Nov 30.

“We try to spread out the payments so the contractor can pay his workers, but we don’t do a final payment until all of the work has been completed,” said Gunnery Sgt Gary M. Gonzalez, 40, from La Puente, Calif., who is the team chief with CA Team 5

“The school was already in session, but they did not have enough space to hold all of the classes at once,” said Gonzalez. “(The classes were) split into three shifts, but many of the teachers commute from the nearby city of Anah and are not able to stay for the entire school day.”

Two additional classrooms have been added to the facility, as well as better restroom facilities and a drainage pipe.

“We built those buildings from the ground up and we also did a little over $25, 000 worth of extra work for the school that was paid by (the contractor and the school),” said Ahmad Fahmi Mohamed, who was the work supervisor for the project.

The Hassah School is the only educational facility in the town, which makes it all the more important for the buildings to operate properly.

“There is nothing more important (than an education) for the youth of Hassah,” said Sami Jaber Mohamed Omar, who has been the school’s director for 12 years. “Every improvement that has been done, even the slightest thing, helps us do our jobs better and has an impact on these children.”


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