By Spc. Shejal Pulivarti
1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
CAMP TAJI, Iraq – The thick, red ribbon was crisply sliced with a pair of scissors signifying the official opening of the school in Al Awad, Iraq Oct. 29.
Ali Abid Abbas, the education committee chairman for Taji Qada, had the honor of cutting the ribbon establishing the temporary trailers as the consolidated school to ensure the surrounding children have a school for the upcoming school year.
The 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, the Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team for the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division and local leaders have been working together since July to set up a school in Al Awad after al-Qaida in Iraq destroyed four of the surrounding schools, resulting in approximately 700 students without a place to learn.
"The children are the future. Working together we can give your children a future through education," said Col. Mike Bridges, deputy team leader for Baghdad 5 EPRT, attached to the 1st BCT, 1st Cav., Div., as he addressed the school staff, Abbas and Sheik Abid, the local sheik leader.
Upon cutting the ribbon, the local leaders provided Bridges with a brief tour of the school grounds during which they expressed their thanks.
"I appreciate all the help and together we can help the people in the area," stated Sheik Abid. He went on to share that the facility was momentarily sufficient but we still have work to do in order to accomplish improving the community. "With the assemblage of local leaders working collectively, we will be able to make a permanent progression," he stated.
The members of 2nd Bn., 8th Cav. Regt., facilitated the farm land in order to build the temporary school. In order to accommodate the amount of kids in need of schooling, there will be two separate shifts for the kids to attend school, said Bridges, an Anchorage, Alaska native.
The cavalry troops, along with EPRT, plan to work with local leaders to develop the temporary school by providing supplies and laying gravel in the courtyard. They also plan to work with Iraq's Ministry of Education to build a permanent structure for the kids to receive an education.
"The community came together to facilitate the project in order to ensure the kids could go to school," Bridges said.