PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Marines with Combat Service Support Detachment - 20 completed repairs to a local school June 12.
The Lycee Pierre Eustache Daniel Fignole School is the third school the Marines from CSSD-20 have helped refurbish since deploying here in early March.
“When we first saw this school it was in pretty bad shape,” said 1st Lt. Ryan K. Massey, engineer detachment commander. “This school is one of the worst that we have assessed, which is one of the reasons we chose this school to work on.”
The Marines replaced and repaired 16 doors and repaired the plumbing in the school to improve the lives of the impoverished children who attend here.
“I look around and these kids have nothing. I’m just glad we could help them out,” said Cpl. Jeremy R. Polich, a combat engineer with CSSD-20.
Among the many projects the Marines completed at the school, sanitation was a top priority according to Massey, whose Marines fixed several sinks and toilets in the school.
“The plumbing was pretty bad. The toilets and the sinks were backed up, so we fixed the plumbing and added a water tank so the kids could use the bathroom and wash their hands,” Massey explained.
The Marines also built tables and benches for the pre-existing makeshift cafeteria where locals prepare and serve food to the children at the school.
“We built benches and tables so the kids would have a place to sit and eat,” Massey said. “It makes for a better environment for the children.”
The projects the Marines have taken on also gave them an opportunity to hone their skills as combat engineers.
“We’ve all gained a lot of experience from being down here,” Polich said. “We’ve had to weld steel doors, fix plumbing and a variety of construction projects, which have helped us maintain and improve our skills,” he explained.
These projects have made a great impact on the way the community perceives the Marines, according to Massey, and have helped to build a bond of trust between the Marines patrolling the streets and the community.
“Since we have been doing these projects, the people are more open with us,” Massey said. “They are more willing to tell us that something is wrong or point out the bad guys.”
The projects have also had a positive impact on the Marines as well.
“The Marines love coming out to do these types of projects,” Massey said. “It gets them out into the community where they can play and interact with the kids. The more time the Marines spend with the community, the more they like helping out the people,“ he explained.