U.S. National Guard Officers Help Renovate School in Suriname
By Dialogo August 05, 2011
Twenty-one service members from the South Dakota National Guard’s 155th Engineering Company, of South Dakota, United States, arrived in Suriname as part of New Horizons 2011.
New Horizons is a cooperative humanitarian mission between the Suriname government and U.S. Southern Command with the goal of helping to improve the quality of life for the people of Suriname.
The 155th soldiers are putting their skills to use in this partnership by renovating the Pater van der Pluym School, comprised of three buildings and a courtyard, located in the District of Brokopondo, south of Paramaribo, Suriname’s capital city.
The school serves over 400 Surinamese students and also functions as a community center.
“This mission provides an opportunity for soldiers who haven’t been deployed to gain some understanding of what that process is like,” said 2nd Lt. Chris Schimke, a platoon leader for the 155th Engineering Company. “This isn’t a dangerous environment, but they are away from home, in a foreign place and don’t speak the language. They have to find their way through everyday situations.”
Everyday situations at this work site include challenges such as working together with faculty and students on the building project while school is in session, overcoming language barriers, working in high heat, and staying hydrated.
The next rotation of 155th engineers will finish the renovations before a medical exercise scheduled to 15 August.