BELIZE CITY, BELIZE
BELIZE CITY, Belize - Opening ceremonies were held for the New Horizons Belize 2014 exercise April 10 at the Edward P. Yorke school in Belize City, Belize.
More than 200 Belizean and U.S. representatives from various schools, armed forces and organizations attended the event, which kicked off the annual exercise typically held in different Central American, South American or Caribbean nations each year.
Opening ceremonies included presentations by each of the four schools receiving new facilities built by the BDF Light Engineer Company and U.S. military civil engineers. Also included in the ceremonies were speeches from the Belizean minister of education, U.S. Embassy chargé d'affaires and the Hattieville school vice principal.
"The opening ceremony is very symbolic (and) is very important," said Lt. Col. Louis Sutherland, Belize Defence Force commanding officer for the services and support battalion. "The opening ceremonies was a reflection of what's to come."
New Horizons is a multifaceted, international exercise geared toward providing mutual training opportunities between host nation and U.S. service members while assisting the host nation population in various capacities. Specifically, New Horizons Belize 2014 comprises BDF and U.S. military civil engineers constructing five school facilities and one medical care facility, and it also encompasses Belizean, Canadian and U.S. medical professionals operating in numerous medical readiness training exercises throughout the country.
New Horizons activities are "perfectly in line with the developmental goals of this country," said Patrick Faber, Belize minister of education.
As it did last year and has in previous years, New Horizons will have a positive impact on the people of Belize, said Margaret Hawthorne, chargé d'affaires at the U.S. embassy in Belize. New Horizons personnel will work closely with Peace Corps volunteers as they conduct medical exercises and provide public health education to the people of Belize. They will also build classrooms to achieve the mission, vision and goals of providing quality education to the children of Belize.
Key partners in the New Horizons exercise include the Belizean government, Belize Defence Force, Canadian military, U.S. Air Force, Army and Marine Corps, U.S. Embassy, and numerous non-governmental organizations and volunteers.
"So far, the partnerships have just been boundless," said U.S. Air Force Col. Dan Pepper, New Horizons Task Force commander. These relationships "allow us to execute our mission."
"We have the opportunity to be hosted by the Belizean government," Pepper added, and "they've enabled us to work with local contractors to procure supplies. They've also enabled us to get the word out to some of the distant regions of the country for medical forces to provide care. ... It's a great opportunity."
Non-governmental organizations are also vital to the success of New Horizons operations. Bowen & Bowen Ltd. donated much-needed water for patients and providers at the medical readiness training exercises, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will donate classroom furniture and supplies once the school facility constructions are complete.
"Bowen & Bowen Ltd. is pleased to partner with our friends from U.S. and Belize in their kind efforts to provide medical attention to the residents of several remote villages throughout Belize," said David Craig, Bowen & Bowen Ltd. commercial marketing manager.
Overall, New Horizons activities include construction on three school facilities in Belize City, a school facility in Hattieville and a medical facility in Belmopan. There will also be numerous medical readiness training exercises near Corozal, Punta Gorda and in Belize City.
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