KEP, Cambodia (NNS) -- Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 4's Detail Cambodia held ribbon cutting ceremonies marking the completion of two projects, Dec. 5.
The ceremonies, for a bathroom facility at the Hun Sen Chamkar Daung High School in Kep Province and a two-room maternity ward at the Russey Srok Health Center in Kampot, recognized two months of joint construction efforts between the Seabees and Army Engineers from the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF).
Julie Chung, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh, and Lt. Gen. Pen Ra, deputy commander of RCAF Engineering Forces, attended the ceremonies.
The ribbon cutting events provided the crews and local community an opportunity to recognize the completion of the facilities. The ceremonies highlighted the contributions of U.S. Navy Seabees, RCAF engineers, the United States Embassy in Phnom Penh, and local ministries and districts that made the projects possible.
The events started with the first ribbon cutting at Hun Sen Chamkar Daung High School where the school's chorus welcomed guests with the Cambodian National Anthem. Speeches by distinguished visitors lauded the accomplishments of the military engineers and the improvements the bathroom facility made to the school.
Chung remarked that the new facility, which doubles the number of toilets previously available to the school's 850 students, meets a basic sanitation and health need and allows the students to better focus on their learning and personal development.
"We are thankful to the American Embassy and military for the wonderful building they have provided us," said Long Sophea, the school's director. "We promise to diligently maintain this new facility to ensure it serves the students of Hun Sen Chamkar Daung for years to come."
Shortly after the first ceremony, the Seabees and VIPs went to the Russey Srok Health Center in nearby Kampot to commemorate the newly constructed maternity ward. A live band and more than 100 locals greeted the entourage to show their appreciation for the detail's efforts.
The two-room maternity ward will improve maternal health care for 10 villages with dedicated rooms for pre and postnatal care. Built with innovative water catchment and solar power systems, the facility also provides critical utilities needed by the ward.
"Infant mortality in Cambodia is amongst the highest in the world and this new facility will support our ministry's continued efforts to reduce that rate," said Tang Cheng, deputy director of the Kampot Ministry of Health. "We have drastically decreased infant mortality since 2005 and look to continue that trend in Kampot and Cambodia."
Lt. Gen. Pen Ra added remarks, highlighting the strong bond the Seabees and RCAF have developed over the past two months of construction and pledging his support for continued partnerships between the two units.
Concluding the ceremony, the local community delivered a resounding applause in appreciation. The partnerships built by the detail and the RCAF have left an impression in the southern province that the Seabees plan to replicate across Cambodia.
"The hospitality and warm welcome we receive by the local communities is incredible and these ribbon cutting ceremonies allow us to celebrate with those who appreciate our work the most," said Lt. j.g. Joseph DeMarzo, officer-in-charge of the detail. "We are incredibly proud and honored to serve these communities and work with our RCAF engineering counterparts."
The Seabees of NMCB 4's Detail Cambodia plan to complete two additional bathroom facilities in Sihanoukville and Kampot provinces before February, and they will continue to work in partnership with RCAF Army engineers to support U.S. Embassy initiatives to improve sanitation conditions and maternal health care across Cambodia.
For more news from Naval Construction Group 1, visit www.navy.mil/local/ncg1/.