By Sgt. Philip Klein
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division
BAGHDAD – The District Advisory Council and the residents of the Thawra 1 neighborhood of the Sadr City District of Baghdad celebrated the re-opening of the Mithaq Pool Complex with prizes, competitions and music, Aug. 30, 2008.
Representatives from the DAC, Ministry of Youth and Recreation, Iraqi army and community organized and oversaw the celebration, amid improved security conditions.
The festivities included guest speakers, a swimming and diving competition and swimming-related gifts for the younger Iraqis in attendance.
Iraqi Lt. Col. Yeayah Rosoul Abdallah al Zubadie, the commander of the 3rd Battalion, 42nd Brigade, 11th Iraqi Army Division, was a guest speaker at the re-opening and welcomed the attendees and thanked the many people who were involved in the important event.
"The Iraqi army is here to serve the people of Iraq. The community leaders here today, with the help of the Government, have a chance to make a difference for their people," said Yeayah. "The re-opening today is an example of all of us together working together for our people."
Re-furbishing the pool complex was an identified project prior to the fighting which began in late March, said Capt. Nicholas Cantrell, a native of Topeka, Kan., the fire support officer for Task Force 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, attached to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. During the last few months, security improved, which was important to the people of the District to get the facility operational again.
"The local and national leaders involved were integral to the process," said Cantrell.
Approximately, $500,000 was spent on the pool and the contractor hired to complete the work has only minor touch-ups to complete before the swimming complex is completed.
"The pool had been in pretty bad shape, but all parties involved agreed it was a good project and would be good for the community," continued Cantrell.
The DAC and community leaders of Thawra 1 also assumed responsibility for maintaining and operating the swimming complex, including the training of lifeguards, who received cardio-pulmonary resuscitation training at Joint Security Station Sadr City from Army medics, Aug. 27, 2008.
The celebration was organized and conducted by leaders and people of the Thawra 1 neighborhood without the involvement of coalition forces, though they were invited.
"We had a contingency plan in place to provide assistance if it was needed but the Iraqi army and the local organizers had everything under control and the event went smoothly, but it was good to see it was all Iraqi," said Cantrell.
"Security is quite good now and the local people feel safer and that has given them the confidence to have large celebrations," said Cantrell.
"The opening of the Mithaq Pool complex is beneficial for the people of Sadr City; it provides alternatives to young males and children and is a positive symbol for the community," said Cantrell. "The community has a place to go and relax; it is a place for families to enjoy. It is a good recreation area."
This work, Iraqis take lead in Mithaq Pool opening/Event sign of progress for Sadr City, by SGT Philip Klein, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.