Encouraging people to care and take action in their community-that's what elected officials in Ali Sabieh wanted to foster and what U.S. Army Civil Affairs Team 4903 helped them nurture.
Citizens of Ali Sabieh conducted a community clean up here May 7, and CAT 4903 and Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa members were on hand to assist any way they could to show their support for the local residents.
Nearly 500 citizens turned out to pick up trash around their village for transport to the local dump, said CAT 4903 member U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Stanislava Ilic-Godfrey. Citizens met in the early morning hours and dispersed to clean up trash in different areas throughout their village.
First Secretary Omar Ahmed of the Ali Sabieh Regional Council, one of the council's five members, stressed the cleanup's importance in raising awareness of the Ali Sabieh citizens to keep their community clean.
"There are lots of plastic and trash littering our village and this is not good for our health," said Ahmed. "That's why we decided to make this contribution to our community."
He also mentioned that the work they did for the trash pickup is more than just physical.
"People do this work for their minds. This is for teaching the people to help them understand the importance of keeping our community clean," said Ahmed. "Usually people think just about themselves, but this encourages them to think about their community and its health."
Initially, CAT 4903 team members met with the Ali Sabieh Regional Council to provide their input based on their own personal experiences with planning and executing community events in the U.S. and abroad.
"The regional council wanted to put this together to get the community involved in making the town a little nicer, a little cleaner. So this is a good opportunity for them," said CAT 4903 member U.S. Army Spc. Jared Stephens.
Ahmed and the other council members then met with government officials in Djibouti, the capital city, who supported the Ali Sabieh trash pickup by donating trash bags, plastic gloves and other supplies. Djiboutian military officials also provided trucks for hauling the trash to the Ali Sabieh dump, and the local Red Crescent helped Ali Sabieh officials coordinate the trash pickup during the event.
"Mr. Ahmed was really the organizer behind all of this," said Ilic-Godfrey. "The Regional Council put this together with no budget and through word of mouth, just by encouraging people to come out and support their community."
Ilic-Godfrey noted how this event was just one example of how Ali Sabieh residents can organize behind a common goal to do something for themselves and their village.
"The greatest goal I see coming from this is getting these people out to do something for their community," said Ilic-Godfrey.