The works were part of mission Continuing Promise carried out in December 2018, in which the U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort provided medical assistance to more than 5,000 people in La Guajira. Among the beneficiaries were immigrants from Venezuela, where basic and specialized medical services are scarce.
The works in both communities show the continuous cooperation commitment between the Colombian and U.S. governments to support local development in the country’s communities. The U.S. government donated construction material, while the Colombian Army and the local Wayuu communities led the entire construction effort.
“Following eight months in La Guajira with Continuing Promise, we deliver this building, which was selected after the consensus of civil and military authorities, who joined traditional authorities to make this dream come true and improve the conditions of rural schools,” said U.S. Army Colonel Robert Armstrong, chief of the U.S. military group in Colombia.
The Juan de Aragón community, comprising 76 families, was the first to benefit with the construction of a school for 96 children.
“I am truly grateful to the Colombian Military Forces and the U.S. government, which support us with these classrooms that benefit all the children in our Wayuu community,” said Ingrid Josefina Ballesteros, an indigenous authority from the Wayuu community in Juan de Aragón, La Guajira.
For its part, Tocoromana, a community of 100 Wayuu families with 138 children, inaugurated classrooms and a school kitchen.
“I believe in partnerships, and I think joint work is more successful. Before, children used to have lessons outdoors, sitting under the trees for protection from the sun. Now, these classrooms will be an adequate space for our children to continue their educational process,” said Rosa Redondo Epiayú, an indigenous leader of the Wayuu community of Tocoromana, La Guajira.
U.S. military representatives, Colombian military leaders, and local authorities from La Guajira department and the city of Riohacha attended the ceremonies.