NMCB 11 Starts A Difference
Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Erick S. Holmes
NMCB 11 Det Horn of Africa Public Affairs
February 23, 2009

GRANDE DOUDA, Djibouti – Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11, based out of Gulfport, Miss., is reaching out to the Djiboutian community in Grande Douda by building additions its public school. 
     These Seabees began construction of a cistern and cantina for the school on Feb. 3 to improve the students’ quality of life. 
     “Right now, they just have tables outside and some of them are broken, so they sit outside in the dirt or on the busted tables to eat,” explained Construction Electrician 2nd Class Mark R. Lahey, project supervisor. 
     When the additions are complete, the cistern will supply 1,500 liters of clean water for the school daily and the 6,336-square-foot cantina will give the students a sheltered dining facility.
     The 10-person crew has been working with the Djiboutians from the start of the project, allowing a welcome change of pace for the Seabees. 
      “It's not the same as Iraq or Kuwait,” said Lahey.  “When I was deployed before, I never had the opportunity to socialize with the locals.  Now as project supervisor, I get to interact with them daily.  Djiboutians are very friendly people.”
     “Working for the students is rewarding,” said Construction Electrician 3rd Class Nicholas S. Fogle, a crew member.  “They are appreciative and happy to see you.” 
     To show their thanks, the Djiboutians allow NMCB 11 to store the tools in a spare classroom, which ensures nightly security for the equipment.
     “They try helping,” said Builder Constructionman Apprentice Leslie L. Keen, a fellow crew member.  “One man from the village asked for a shovel and pick-axe to help.  We can't let them help for safety reasons, but that doesn't stop them from being anxious and curious.”
     This type of enthusiasm also showcases the Djiboutians' appreciation for the American presence in their community, helping the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CTJF-HOA) mission of forging positive relationships with Africans.  With the crew working in almost identical conditions as the workers from Djibouti, the Seabees wait as locals make their own concrete masonry unit (CMU) blocks and then stress test each one on the job site. 
     “The waiting process of making the CMU on the spot is time consuming,” said Lahey. “But the money used for all of the supplies and labor assists the local economy, which is a tremendous bonus for the community.”
     Though challenges are there, they do not diminish the Bees' motivation, explained Fogle.
     “Yeah, there's a communication barrier, but we're learning [the local spoken language,] Somali,” Fogle said.  “Their smiles and happiness make it worthwhile; it's great doing something for somebody.”
      NMCB 11 is currently deployed to Djibouti, Comoros, Uganda and Ethiopia, conducting various humanitarian missions for CTJF-HOA.
 
090226-N-1057H-098 GRANDE DOUDA, Djibouti (Feb. 26, 2009) Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11 cut plywood for a water storage tank at Ecole de Douda primary school in Grande Douda, Djibouti, Feb. 26, 2009.  The tank will provide the school with 1,500 liters of water per day.  NMCB 11 is currently deployed for the first time since being disestablished in 1969, and is supporting humanitarian missions in the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa  (CJTF-HOA) area of operations.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Erick S. Holmes./RELEASED.)
 

090226-N-1057H-076 GRANDE DOUDA, Djibouti (Feb. 26, 2009) Builder 3rd Class Gwennette Jamerson, assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11, carries plywood for a water storage tank at Ecole de Douda primary school in Grande Douda, Djibouti, Feb. 26, 2009.  The tank will provide the school with 1,500 liters of water per day.  Douda de Ecole is one of four schools NMCB 11 is making improvements to in the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) area of operations.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Erick S. Holmes./RELEASED)
 
     
090223-N-1057H-043 CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti (Feb. 23, 2009) Steelworker 2nd Class (SCW) Paul Donigan, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11, uses a stinger to weld a table leg in place.  Donigan is part of Camp Lemonier's Camp Maintenance staff, working daily on various projects to enhance morale and quality of life on camp.  NMCB 11 is currently deployed and tasked to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA). Official U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Erick S. Holmes.

     
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