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First project of New Horizons Guyana complete

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jason Burton
  • Joint Task Force Guyana Public Affairs
New Horizons Guyana 2009 is a joint service humanitarian mission designed to provide assistance to the Guyanese people by building a new medical clinic and school, and renovating another school, as well as offering free medical and dental care to thousands of people.

This exercise has been in full swing for only a month and the first project is now officially complete.

The 301st Fighter Wing Civil Engineer Squadron, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas, was charged with the task of repairing, remodeling and upgrading the Timehri Nursery School, a former New Horizons project from a previous mission in 2004.

The first rotation of Air Force reservists from the 301st CES started the renovation project July 6 and an almost two hour long round-trip drive to the project site each day, and inclement weather didn't slow them down.

"It rained almost everyday during the first rotation," said Senior Master Sgt. Scott Lacey, Timehri Nursery School project manager. "And the heat here is just stifling. But we had to just focus and work through it."

The weather wasn't the only hurdle the 301st CES was in for. When the second rotation of personnel was due to arrive in country, Sergeant Lacey found out that only six members would be arriving instead of the 18 that were slated for the mission.

Even with the manning issues, the 301st was able to stay ahead of schedule, which allowed them to do improvements not originally planned for.

Some of the extra tasks the 301st Airmen were able to complete include doubling the amount of new fence built from 300 to 600 feet and additional grading of the school grounds to improve water drainage. They were also able to install a pedestrian bridge across a drainage ditch for easier access to the nursery school and paint the school' s interior walls.

This was in addition to correcting several different electrical problems and installing two playgrounds, one at the nursery and one at the primary school, repairing and rebuilding nine toilets, adding kitchen cabinets and counter tops as well as repairing an oven, repairing four sinks inside the nursery, installing and repairing ceiling fans, light fixtures and doors. They also painted the entire exterior of the school, added 200 feet of six-inch gutter to the roof of the building, repaired and repainted all of the nursery furniture, as well as many other cosmetic upgrades.

One of the most functionally important fixes the 301st CES performed at the school was also one of the easiest.

The school had been without running water for several years and had to use buckets of water to flush the toilets. But after a quick diagnosis of the problem and a short amount of time, the 301st CES Advon Team was able to restore water to the school. They also added a 400 gallon water tank and a backup pump.

Sergeant Lacey said this project wouldn't have been so successful if not for the hard work and dedication of his Airmen.
"My Airmen were fantastic," he said. "They worked hard everyday for four weeks without complaining about anything and that is why we were able to achieve so much."

Despite the long work hours, high temperatures and rainy days, Sergeant Lacey said his time in Guyana has been a great experience. He added the first time he saw some Guyanese children playing on the new playground they installed, it made it all worth it.

"This has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done in my career," he said. "I would absolutely volunteer to do this again."

Staff Sgt. Mark Jones, 301st CES electrical systems craftsman, agreed saying, this is one of those things that only a few people get to do and he is happy he was able to.

"I really like helping the people here and I have been able to gain a lot of experience outside of my job ," said Sergeant Jones. "We have done a lot in out two weeks here, but I wish I could stay longer and do more."

Now that the Temhiri Nursery School project is complete, the school will now be ready for its next assignment when it will serve as a medical site along with the Temhiri Primary School to offer free medical services to Guyanese people Aug. 10-14 and Aug. 17-21.