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    Photo By Pfc. Haley Haile | Soldiers from the 1437th Multi-Role Bridge Company from Michigan attached to the...... read more read more



    Story by Pfc. Haley Haile 

    119th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    CHIQUIMULA, Guatemala – An international blend of soldiers from different units stood holding the ends of a black tarp hanging from the branches of two trees. They were waiting for the final countdown to reveal the surprise hidden behind. School children stood atop a hill outside of the new school building that was still under construction. Teachers began the countdown, “Uno! Dos!” and the entire crowd finished in unison, “TRES”! Squeals of delight and laughter could be heard echoing across the construction site.

    Soldiers from the 1430th Engineer Company and the 1437th Multi-Role Bridge Company deployed to Guatemala and assisted in the building of a two-room school building to support Beyond the Horizon 2014 – Guatemala. Beyond the Horizon is a joint partnership between the United States and Central and South America and the Caribbean to provide medical, dental, and engineering assistance to the local communities and people.

    In addition to the school building, the children were surprised with a play area that included a playhouse with seesaws, swings, monkey bars, and a slide. The area was not part of the original plans for the site. A group of soldiers put the plans together after the children were asked if there was anything in particular they wanted.

    “The first time they came and toured the clinic, we asked if they had any questions. A little girl asked if there would be a place to play,” reflected Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Kabelman of the 1437th Multi-Role Bridge Company. “At the time we had to answer ‘no’, but once we got our major tasks done I went down to the scrap wood and the play house is what came out of it.”

    Kabelman and a group of other soldiers began constructing the playhouse using wood and pallets left over from the construction of the school building. It was built without any plans or guidelines.

    “I was a contractor before,” Kabelman stated, “but the only playhouse I’ve built was from Sears. I didn’t have to build it out of scrap wood. There weren’t really any plans. I had a picture in my head and started putting wood together. Its one of a kind; no blue prints.”

    The group decided that they wanted the play area to be a surprise to the kids, but they wanted to show the teachers first so they could coordinate an unveiling. When the play area was shown to the teachers, another addition to the project became evident.
    “When the teachers came and looked at the play area, they said the kids really wanted a slide,” Kabelman commented. “We got pictures and prices on some around the area. I went to the guys and asked what they thought, and if they wanted to pitch in to help. I had the money within 15 minutes.”

    With everything built, painted, and put in place, the soldiers at El Roble had an unveiling event. The school children were brought to the construction site to see the advancements the soldiers had made. After a walk through of the building, the soldiers ripped down the tarp that had kept the play area out of site. Children were allowed to play in the area before the soldiers left the site for the last time before returning home.

    “It was kind of an emotional moment,” Kabelman commented. “It amazes me how you can take a few hours, some hard work, and a couple of guys to build something that will change their lives.”



    Date Taken: 05.15.2014
    Date Posted: 05.22.2014 22:22
    Story ID: 130873
    Location: CHIQUIMULA, GT

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