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372nd Engineer Company lays the first bricks at Santa Librada school

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky
  • New Horizons Panama 2010 Public Affairs
Soldiers from the 372nd Engineer Company, part of Task Force New Horizons, laid the first bricks for a new school house at Santa Librada elementary school June 26.

The engineering company is an Army Reserve unit deployed from Pewaukee, Wis., in support of New Horizons Panama 2010, a humanitarian assistance mission focused on building critical infrastructure and providing medical care to Panamanian citizens at sites around the country.

The current school house was too small to accommodate all students, so makeshift classrooms were erected to provide additional space. The new school house will provide adequate classrooms and administrative areas. The engineer company will also erect a new water tower, build new bathroom facilities, and upgrade the entire electrical system for the school.

"It makes you feel good to know that the sacrifices you make to be part of this mission will have an enduring positive effect on these people's lives," said Sgt. 1st Class Kurt Lindenberg, NCO in charge of the Santa Librada site. "You can see the excitement on the children's and teacher's faces, while we're working, which makes it all worthwhile."

The Santa Librada school is one of six sites selected for the New Horizons mission. In total, four schools and two medical clinics will be improved by a force of U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army engineers. The construction is scheduled to last until mid-September. Additionally, five medical teams will deploy for two-week rotations in the towns of Chitre, Veraguas, and David to provide care in the fields of ophthalmology, ear-nose-throat surgery, and dentistry.

Since New Horizons started in the mid-1980's, Airmen and members of U.S. Southern Command have built schools and community centers, dug wells, provided medical care, and constructed clinics year after year at the request of numerous countries in the spirit of cooperation and friendship.

All these missions revolve around USSOUTHCOM's ongoing commitment to theater security cooperation, and are requested by the host nation. By sharing experiences, information, vital skills, tactics, and techniques, the United States continues to build enduring partnerships with nations in Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean.