Civil affairs Marines turn attention to improving local schoolhouse

Regimental Combat Team 3
Story by Cpl. John McCall

Date: 10.16.2009
Posted: 10.16.2009 10:32
News ID: 40217
Civil Affairs Marines Turn Attention to Improving Local Schoolhouse

HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Civil Affairs Marines with Company B, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 3, visited a local school here, Oct. 8, to talk with teachers about refurbishing their schoolhouse.

"We've been there a few times before, asking for the school to be opened," said Sgt. Scott Spaulding, 25, a civil affairs specialist from Annapolis, Md. "This was actually the first time that we saw students being taught there."

According to what locals have told Marines, three to four years ago a group of Taliban militants set off a bomb inside the school to keep children from attending. The explosion caused some structural damage. Windows were blown out and doors broken.

Since the bombing, the school house was closed with no one to look after the building until only recently.

"The whole school needs a lot of improvements. Only some of the classrooms are operational right now, and the well they have is broken," said Sgt. Christopher Velazquez, 23, a civil affairs team chief from Newark, Del. "We want to make it a fully functioning school."

With this school as their current focus, the civil affairs Marines hope to have more projects like this one in the future.

"Even though the project is moving slowly, I think it is better that way because it gives us a chance to make sure that things are being done right," Spaulding said. "I think we are making a difference, but it is going to take time for things to really change."