UN peacekeepers in Ethiopia and Eritrea rebuild school in Senafe
Volunteering their resources and skills, Canadian soldiers serving in UNMEE, as the UN operation is known, worked with local people to turn the school into the first major post-war reconstruction effort in the area.
"The roof was coming down, shutters were torn, the desks didn't have table tops, so the engineers got together" to respond, explained Capt. Laura Oberwarth of UNMEE's Canadian contingent. "It took them about 10 days to put it all together, working with people from the area."
"This was a team effort from the start," observed UNMEE's Canadian Captain Neil Marshal, who organized the project. "The people from Senafe worked very hard on the project and an Eritrean school donated desks," he added.
One of the challenges the peacekeepers faced was carrying out the repair work while students attended classes, according to UNMEE. During breaks between classes, curious students watched the work-in-progress. Some 800 children are expected to attend the revamped school, and that figure will increase when all internally displaced families return to the area.
At an inauguration ceremony, Capt. Marshall presented the keys to the school - together with some tools, soccer balls and school supplies - to the Administrator for Senafe sub-zone, who thanked the Government of Canada for its contribution to peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
A delegation of Senafe's village elders also expressed their thanks to UNMEE, saying that the presence of international peacekeepers has been extremely helpful in safeguarding the area's people and their belongings.