Seabees Improve Schools in Timor-Leste

Story Number: NNS120313-06Release Date: 3/13/2012 5:43:00 AM
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By Builder 3rd Class Christopher Vann, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 40 Public Affairs

DILI, Timor-Leste (NNS) -- Seabees from U.S. Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 40 Detail Timor-Leste are currently renovating and rehabilitating two, four-room school buildings with detached restrooms at Fatumeta Primary School in Dili, Timor-Leste.

Seabees began the schoolhouse renovation and rehabilitation project Jan. 3. The project is one of five civic assistance projects planned for completion during the detail's stay in Timor-Leste. The project was identified as a priority due to the pre-existing condition of the school, high student to classroom ratio, and the needs of the community. Fatumeta Primary School is home to over 1,800 students from the Comoro district of Dili, and with a student to teacher ratio exceeding 45:1, the school was significantly undersized.

Under the current project scope of work, crew members will conduct a complete renovation of the school buildings to include a new roof, new ceiling system, painting of the interior and exterior portions of the building, concrete floor patch-work, installation of new electrical systems in each of the classrooms to include new lighting fixtures and outlets, and a complete rehabilitation of the restroom facilities with the replacement of all deteriorated fixtures and plumbing.

NMCB 40 was the first Seabee Battalion to arrive in Timor-Leste in early 2009. Today's group of Fighting 40 Seabees becomes the fifth group of U.S. Seabees to arrive to Timor-Leste as part of the 30th Naval Construction Regiment (NCR) Enduring Detachment, Civic Construction Action Detail (CCAD) Timor-Leste. The detail completes their Engineering Civic Assistance Projects (ENCAP) in coordination with the U.S. Embassy Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC) and the Australian Defense Cooperation Program to mutually enhance the capabilities and interoperability of the Seabees and the Timor-Leste military forces.

This partnership not only helps transfer the unique skills of the Seabees to the developing Timor-Leste military engineering forces, Falinitil-Forcas Defesa de Timor-Leste (F-FDTL), but also helps to improve the social welfare and development of the local communities in Timor-Leste. In addition, the Seabees provide English classes to the students at Fatumeta and assist with several community relation (COMREL) events at the school in conjunction with the U.S. Embassy.

Builder 3rd Class Adam Fraser was asked about the lifelong impact that humanitarian assistance projects have on the children and the communities of Timor-Leste. "I'm excited every day to go to work and see the smiles on the children's faces from the work that I've done" said Fraser. Every day the crew at Fatumeta is greeted with smiles and welcoming handshakes from the students, teachers, and community members.

As project crewleader, Builder 3rd Class Rodney Sikes said he looks forward to completing the renovation project for the children of Fatumeta. "I really enjoy the work that we are doing. Not only does it help the community, but it also sends a positive message to the people of Timor-Leste."

One of the local students, 10 year-old Domingos Soares explained his impression of the Seabees and the project at Fatumeta (translation provided).

"I'm so excited to see my new school. I can't wait to have class in the new rooms. Everyone at school is talking about how much we like the Seabees and how appreciative we are. Thank you."

NMCB 40 is the Naval Construction Force's 2011 Pacific Fleet Battle "E" and Peltier Award wining Seabee Battalion. The Battalion deployed throughout the U.S. Pacific Command in November 2011, and is scheduled to return to Port Hueneme, Calif., in the summer 2012. Fighting 40 deployment locations include Okinawa, Sasebo, and Yokosuka, Japan, Guam, Korea, the Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand, Timor Leste, Diego Garcia, and Palau.

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