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'New Horizons' Belize holds opening ceremony

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Chyenne Griffin
  • Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs
The opening ceremony for New Horizons Belize was held here March 8 with a groundbreaking for a new school building for the village. 

Airmen and Soldiers from both active and National Guard units will build a total of four new school buildings in different villages during their deployment to Belize. 

Medical support from the U.S. Army, Air Force and Navy will also be provided to different villages in Belize via six mobile medical clinics, a temporary dental clinic and a medical ship being sent to the coast of Belize. 

"This help comes at the right time and will provide our students with more rooms to grow and learn in," said Lucia Garcia, a 7th grade teacher at Trial Farm. "It is a big help for the Americans to come in and provide this." 

The school building will have indoor plumbing, a library and computer lab for the children. All 900 students from the Trial Farm Government School, ranging from kindergarten to eighth grade, were on hand for the ceremony, as well as government officials from Belize. 

"We are thankful the U.S. government has decided to invest in our education system ... and provide many Belizians with medical and dental care," said Belize's Minister of State, The Honorable Servelo Baizar during the opening ceremony. "On behalf of the government and people of Belize, I say thank you to the government and people of America for investing in our education infrastructure and medical well-being." 

One of the objectives of New Horizons is to establish and nurture relationships with host-nation counterparts in order to develop trust and confidence, pursue mutually beneficial programs, and assist them in developing military forces that support democratic institutions. 

These projects also provide realistic joint and combined training for military engineers, medical personnel, and support troops. 

"The Belize Defense Force is a proud partner in New Horizons 2007 and will work shoulder-to-shoulder with all the American Soldiers in this win, win, win situation. The Americans receive training, our soldiers also get on-the-job training, and the children of these villages get enhanced quality of life through education," said Brig. Gen. Lloyd Gillett, Belize Defense Force commander. "America's goodwill and generosity leads to security, stability and prosperity, which is mutually beneficial. I thank you all." 

Immediately following the ceremony, construction crews got to work on the foundation for the first school house, while medical personnel scouted locations for the medical exercises to be conducted in the coming months. 

"It's moments like these that we can truly appreciate as Americans what we can do in our neighboring countries. It is truly an honor to be able to fulfill your dreams," said U.S. Army Col. Douglas Mouton, commander of the 225th Engineer Battalion and lead officer for the construction projects. 

"We could not be here without the tireless efforts of the government of Belize, the government of the United States, the Belizian Defense Force and the U.S. Armed Forces. Through the strength of our combined efforts, this is not the first New Horizons project in Belize, and I am confident it will not be the last."