This was reposted from U.S. CENTCOM Newsletter
12 March, 2007
Story by U.S. Army Capt. Jerord E. Wilson
CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti – Members of the 489th Civil Affairs recently made a long journey to the villages of Andoli and Randa to deliver much needed water, various toys and blankets, as well as discuss infrastructure improvements, as part of the ongoing Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa effort to improve quality of life for people in the region.
The Andoli visit was prompted by a report from the Obock commissar about the village being short on water. Later in the mission, a visit was made to the village of Randa to facilitate a meeting with the local leaders to discuss the expansion of the electrical grid to the school and the library and to deliver some school supplies.
Civil Affairs teams offer unique capabilities that not only enhance the mission, but also advance the continuing partnership between CJTF-HOA and the local Djiboutian people. CA teams receive specific training in areas that focuses on positive interaction with the local leadership, to include negotiating projects for the benefit of the entire village.
According to U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Kris Hesselbrock, the CAT visits support the overall mission of CJTF-HOA to improve the quality of life of people in the region through civil-military operations and enabling nations in the Horn to become self-sufficient.
“The overall purpose of the visit to Andoli and Randa was to continue expanding upon the CJTF mission in the Horn of Africa,” he said.
Local leaders in the village of Andoli were filled with joy as the 489th team passed out toys, blankets and other items from back home to the kids in the village.
Hesselbrock passed out some donated toothbrushes and toothpaste from his wife and gave a class on how to use the hygiene items.
“Proper dental hygiene is important in promoting a healthy lifestyle in all the villages we visit,” he said.
In the village of Randa, Army 1st Lt. Steven Pomella and Army Sgt. Brandon Stoddard, both from A Company 1-16th, were invited by local teachers to participate in a discussion with students. Because of Pomella’s background as an English teacher and Stoddard ability to speak French, they were able to participate in discussions on recognizing the signs and symptoms of tuberculosis, hepatitis, malaria, diarrhea and severe dehydration. Stoddard’s French-speaking abilities lifted the spirits of everyone in the classroom during the discussions.
Army Staff Sgts Nathan Hicks and Hesselbrock explained their recommendations and the benefits to the leaders of Randa about the electrical grid expansion. After a two-hour discussion, which included the local electrician and the village leadership, all parties agreed the electrical grid expansion would be completed to benefit the school and the adjacent library.
“Because we were able to speak directly to the local leadership and the person who will be doing the work, I think that this meeting was more effective and productive to the village as a whole,“ explained Hesselbrock.
The mission of CJTF-HOA is to prevent conflict, promote regional stability and protect coalition interests in order to prevail against extremism. The CJTF-HOA organization began operations at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti May 13, 2003. It works with partner nations on humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, consequence management, civic action programs to include medical and veterinary care, school and medical clinic construction and water development projects.
Photo: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Kris Hesselbrock, 489th Civil Affairs team, hands out stuffed animals and blankets to the kids of Andoli village. (Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Nathan Hicks).