Food. Paper. Notebooks. Art supplies and soccer balls. These are just some of the items U.S. service members in East Africa donated to a school in Lamu County, Kenya. And the donations were just the beginning.
U.S. Army Soldiers with Task Force Iron Gray, Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), and the 404th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne), Civil Affairs East Africa, and U.S. Airmen with the 475th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron, visited the school Nov. 2, 2021, to donate the supplies, repair the school’s water system, and engage with students.
Civil Affairs East Africa works to strengthen U.S. partnership in Kenya in efforts to advance the prosperity, peace and security of its communities through civic support and cultural exchange engagements.
The teachers and students welcomed the service members to the school with singing and dancing. Once the supplies were donated, the service members played sports and other games with the students during the engagement.
“We wanted to support the education of the children in our local community through infrastructure repair, providing supplementary school supplies, and cultural exchange,” said Sgt. Nicholas Boss, 404th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne), Civil Affairs East Africa. “Civil Affairs has partnered with the Government of Kenya’s Ministry of Education to support academic development by helping to remove the barriers to education, particularly for girls and disadvantaged groups.”
Both the head teacher and the Ministry of Education expressed their gratitude and support for the engagement, Boss added. The head teacher said the children view the service members as role models, and she especially appreciated having female service members present, allowing the students to see women as leaders and opening their eyes beyond the traditional roles they may normally see.
While many of the Soldiers were playing sports with the students, two Soldiers assigned to B Company, 572nd Brigade Engineer Battalion, Task Force Iron Gray, CJTF-HOA, worked to repair the school’s gutter system and connect it to its large water tanks. This allows the school’s staff to catch rainwater that can be purified for use.
U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Danaher and Sgt. Quinton Banus were the two engineers responsible for this important task.
“We had the means to repair some of the loose metal roofing, reconnect a string of gutters to an existing water collection system, and replace the rotten rubber seals on the school kiosk water meter,” Danaher said.
The school, with more than 300 students, is now able to collect water from the water collection system to sustain growth and promote a healthier lifestyle in comparison to surrounding locations, Danaher added.
Civil Affairs plans to continue supporting the Government of Kenya’s education initiatives. Investment in the academic success of Kenya’s youth and the host nation population is a priority for partnership between the U.S. and Kenya.
CJTF-HOA, operating from Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, builds and strengthens partnerships to contribute to security and stability in East Africa. The task force’s efforts, as part of a comprehensive whole-of-government approach, are aimed at increasing African partner nations’ capacity to maintain a stable environment, with an effective government that provides a degree of economic and social advancement to its citizens.