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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Seabees renovate southern Philippine school

By Lt. Cmdr. John Perkins, Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines

MARAWI, Philippines – Navy builders assigned to the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) have begun renovations to a Muslim elementary school in Marawi, a city located in the southern Philippines.

Navy Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 1 Detachment Philippines began the renovation project April 11 by removing decrepitated roofs, windows and doors at the Tores Elementary School.

“The children had bowls on their desk because the roofs leaked when it rained,” said Builder 2nd Class Jody Brommer, the team leader for the project.

Following the demolition, the construction detachment started fabricating parts for the king post trusses that will support one of the school’s roofs. The Seabees will build and install new roofs, glass windows with screens, new internal walls, and doors to all three buildings of the school and will construct the school’s first ever restroom.

“We weren’t fortunate enough to have a bathroom,” said Noraniah Usman, the Toros barangay (neighborhood) Chairwomen. “Whenever students need to use the bathroom, they have to go home.”

“We are very fortunate to have the Seabees here; this is very big for us,” she emphasized.

Once the entire project is complete, the school will be able to educate more children.

“We teach kindergarten through the fourth grade,” said Monalica Ali, the school’s kindergarten teacher. “We hope to add grades five and six when the renovations are done.”

The Seabees plan to complete the first building by May 14 before the detachment returns to their homeport in Mississippi. For Brommer, this is a rewarding project to wrap up their time in the Philippines.

“The kids got excited when the construction began,” Brommer said. “We get to see the good things we are doing. This makes us feel good to do something for the people.”

Brommer is more than happy to continue to bare the Seabee reputation in the Pacific Fleet.

“We [Seabees] have built quite a reputation, and people are excited when they see the Seabees,” she said.

For the Toros neighborhood leader, the renovations are about the future of the children and stated this is something the community will not forget.

“They [children] will be very appreciative of what the American government has given them.”Usman said.

“We are very thankful for the work of the U.S. Seabees and for many generations to come this gift will be passed on.”

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