US-sponsored Bel Air Nursery School commissioned
For the first time in 27 years, the Bel Air Nursery school is housed in its own building, a development which was made possible through Operation New Horizons, a US Southern Command-sponsored humanitarian and civic assistance exercise.
The new edifice was yesterday handed over to the Ministry of Education during a simple ribbon-cutting ceremony.
According to Colonel Patrick Keenan, who headed the project, work on the building commenced on July 1 last and was expected to have been completed within two-and-a-half months.
However, the dedicated efforts of the supporting ranks saw the building being completed on August 31, two weeks ahead of the scheduled completion date. As a result, the nursery school was ready in its entirety for the September 1 opening of public schools.
The new structure, which will accommodate 46 pupils and five teachers, is 30 feet by 60 feet in size, consisting of a main classroom, kitchen, and a bathroom area.
Expressing much gratitude for the support offered by the United States Government through its military humanitarian effort, Head Teacher, Ms Julia De Silva, recounted how the nursery school had over the years encroached on the space of the Bel Air Primary school, which is situated next door.
“We were greatly inconveniencing the Bel Air Primary School though they never once complained; they embraced us and supported us all through the years.”
De Silva disclosed that the nursery school had suffered many setbacks over the years but opined that with the new building things will improve. As such she regarded yesterday as a special day, even as she pointed out that it is a blessing and a dream come true.
But the building was not all that was afforded to the students and teachers of the nursery school as a donation of a computer and printer as well as some cash was presented to De Silva to use towards the improved operation of the school.
De Silva, however did not fail to return a similar gesture, offering tokens of gratitude to both the US ranks and a representative, Colonel Gary Beaton, of the Guyana Defence Force, which offered assistance to the US team during their work.
Both, Permanent Secretary, Pulandar Kandhi and Minister within the Education Ministry, Dr Desrey Fox, lauded the US support yesterday. Charge d’Affaires of the US Embassy, Karen Williams, pointed to the fact that the support represents continue commitment from the people of the US to work with the people of Guyana to help improve the living, educational and medical facilities locally.
Nearly 650 US Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen had participated in the New Horizons operation of which about 200 carried out works in Guyana. The exercise was geared at strengthening ties with partner nations in Central and South America through combined quality of life improvement projects.
As such, in addition to the work carried out on the Bel Air Nursery school, renovations were done on a school constructed previously at Timehri. Additionally, both schools were in receipt of new playground equipment.
New Horizons had also engaged in constructing a 30 feet by 90 feet Clinic at La Penitence which will be handed over to the health sector today. The building comprises four examination rooms, an office, a waiting room and bathroom.
The stint of the humanitarian project was scheduled to last 75 days, thus will come to an official end this weekend.
New Horizons is an annual series of joint and combined humanitarian assistance exercises that US Southern Command conducts in Latin American and Caribbean nations. Typically, New Horizons’ exercises last several months, providing much needed services and infrastructure, while giving deployed U.S. military forces invaluable training. These exercises generally take place in rural, underprivileged areas. The projects create a unique opportunity for the US and partnering nations to work side-by-side to refine the skills of their militaries’ engineers, medical personnel, and support staff through quality of life projects.