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Marines Rebuild School in Umm Qasr - 2003-04-17

The United States, as we have often reported, is tackling the problem of reconstruction in Iraq. U.S. troops and Iraqis are working together in a number of places. One City - Umm Qasr – is the site of one such project: The rebuilding of a school for girls. Brian Purchia has more.

The major Iraqi port city of Umm Qasr was one of the first Iraqi cities to come under coalition control. Scenes of food and water shortages were the images many saw in the early days of the U.S. led military campaign. However, food and water are no longer the problem. Now the U.S. is focusing on rebuilding a city that was largely neglected by Saddam Hussein and his regime for more than 20 years.

“All these people don't have anything. You go see down in their houses.”

The U.S. Agency for International Development and a unit of construction specialists from the U.S. Navy are working with town leaders in Umm Qasr to rebuild this school for girls. Rafael Jabba works for U.S.A.I.D.

“Iraqi laborers were hired and they are participating in the cleanup of their schools and painting their schools. The kids were very pleased.”

There is a lot of work that needs to be done. Umm Qasr had little money for school maintenance during Saddam’s reign.

“The schools are in very rough shape. All the windows in every school we have visited they’re broken. The screens are broken. There’s no septic system within these schools.”

“I want to get some screen material and get it back over the windows and we ordered the glass panes so we can take care of all this smashed glass and bullet hole things and get it back up hopefully, a better school than where it is today.”

Though the buildings have been neglected over time, the U.S. military and the Iraqis are now working together so these classrooms can once again be used to teach Iraqi children, preparing them for Iraq’s still uncertain future.