ORANGE WALK, Belize – The closing ceremony for New Horizons Belize occurred at 10 a.m. June 28 at Trial Farm Government School.
The deputy prime minister of Belize; minister of education, youth and sports; the U.S. Embassy’s Chargé d’Affaires; chief executive officer for the ministry of national security, commander of the Belize Defence Force; Task Force Mahogany commander; service members from the Belize Defence Force and the U.S. military; and leadership and students from area schools were among those in attendance.
“This exercise builds upon the strong partnership between the U.S. government, ministry of education, ministry of health, Peace Corps and Belize Defence Force,” said Margaret Hawthorne, the U.S. Embassy’s Chargé d’Affaires.
Active duty, National Guard and Reserve U.S. service members worked with the Belize Defence Force to build new classrooms at four different schools in the Belize and Orange Walk Districts.
“These classroom buildings will greatly improve the capacity of Belize’s ministry of education and will allow the principals and teachers to continue to work to achieve their vision, mission and goals to provide a good learning environment to the students of Belize,” said Hawthorne.
Additionally, U.S. and Canadian military medical personnel worked together to provide medical services to more than 15,000 Belizean citizens in nine locations throughout the country.
Services included general medical care, family health care, dermatology services, public health education, dental care, ophthalmology, plastic surgery, and ear, nose and throat surgeries, as well as the treatment of more than 3,200 animals throughout the greater Orange Walk area by U.S. veterinarians.
“These projects compliment government of Belize medical and education programs and initiatives and provide valuable training to U.S. and Belizean military and medical professionals,” said Hawthorne.
Patrick Faber, minister of education, youth and sports, discussed the importance of the new classrooms and education in Belize.
“It is a very, very fine example of what we always preach in the ministry of education. That when we work together collaboratively, it makes for greater success,” Faber said. “These buildings are indeed a powerful investment in the Belizean education system and the development of Belize.”
Gaspar Vega, the deputy prime minister of Belize, said this was the first time in Belize history, during the New Horizons exercise, the country experienced such a unique blend of joint forces cooperation and collaboration.
“This project afforded the participants from three countries the opportunity to practice and exchange new skills, techniques and ideas,” said Vega. “It allowed them to further enhance the camaraderie and build new friendships.
“The engineers, doctors, dentists, veterinarians and other medical practitioners that participated in this exercise, no doubt touched the heart of every Belizean where ever they went or where ever they worked,” Vega continued. “They were able to build capacity and improve the way of life for many Belizeans.”
Vega closed by thanking the many different personnel who participated.
“Thank you for ensuring the kind of enabling environment that allowed our public officers to be better prepared to meet future challenges, and our people to have a better quality of life.”
U.S. Southern Command is planning the next New Horizons exercise to take place in Belize in 2014.