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Jun 28, 2013

New Horizons builds relationships in Trial Farm

New Horizons is a project first brought to Belize by the US Southern Command in 2001 and again in 2007 and now in 2013. It involves soldiers from SouthCom and the Belize Defense Force coordinating in a joint exercise which combines training with infrastructure projects and education, health and humanitarian works carried out in different communities across the country. SouthCom has been in Belize since April first for New Horizons 2013. The project ended today with the completion and inauguration of a new four-classroom building at the Trial Farm Government School. Mike Rudon was there as the local and foreign teams wrapped up another successful collaboration.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

This year New Horizons included participation from US SouthCom, the BDF and Canadian Military. In three months, the soldiers did essential infrastructure work at four schools, including this new classroom building at the Trial Farm Government School which was the final project of the 2013 exercise.

 

Nazira Romero

Nazira Romero, Principal, Trial Farm Government School

“This building will benefit us greatly because we are overcrowded on the other side presently so when we move over here we plan on moving the upper division students, especially the Standard Six.”

 

The building includes four classrooms, bathroom facilities and administrative offices. In addition to this infrastructure work and a playground built on the campus, New Horizons also did much the same at the Ladyville Technical High School, the Crooked Tree Government Primary School and the Louisiana government Primary School.

 

Margaret Hawthorne

Margaret Hawthorne, Deputy Chief of Mission, US Embassy

“Our personnel worked closely with the ministries here to identify the schools, to identify the locations for the medical treatment and then they put it together. Basically we send people out to do site surveys and to talk to people to identify where the need is greatest and where they can really provide assistance.”

 

Reporter

“And the funding?”

 

Margaret Hawthorne

“The funding comes from the US Southern Command. The project New Horizons is part of their effort to help build relationships and help build capacity throughout the region. It’s a humanitarian assistance program. But you know, while we are obviously providing a lot of assistance our people are also getting a lot of training and they’re developing those relationships and contacts that will last them for many years to come.”

 

Colonel Stuart Weinberger is the task force commander of the SouthCom team. This year the exercise wasn’t limited to building classrooms and playgrounds, but also included free health care provided to more than fifteen thousand Belizeans and veterinary work for more than three thousand animals.

 

Stuart Weinberger

Col. Stuart Weinberger, Task Force Commander, SouthCom

“We had approximately four hundred and eighty US personnel rotate in and out of Belize to complete the four school buildings and also the bathroom facility and then we also repaired three other buildings throughout Belize. And that’s just the construction side. We also brought in medical personnel who treated approximately fifteen thousand patients in several different areas and also some veterinarians who treated about three thousand animals.”

 

Lt. Col. David Jones, Commander, B.D.F.

“Whenever we do projects like this, particularly B.D.F. engineers benefit a lot. We get training experience because we have electricians, we have masons, we have carpenters, we have plumbers and all those skills are put into practice when they do construction on these buildings. Whenever the US Southern Command has projects and they say that they’re going to conduct New Horizons in Belize I am very happy. They ask if we would accept it and of course I would never turn down such an opportunity because the country benefits, our students benefit from the educational opportunities, our government benefits from the buildings and the schools and our soldiers benefit from the training experience and the camaraderie that we get to share with the US Forces and in this case we also had the opportunity to work with the Canadians on this project.”

 

Col. Stuart Weinberger

“It’s benefitted our officers and enlisted men immensely. We got to work with the Belize Defense Force so we got to learn from you all. You have some very good engineers so we got to learn from them and work with them to develop partnerships for future situations – should we have to engage in humanitarian relief we look to work with Belize and our partners through the Caribbean and Central America. We look to work with our partners.”

 

David Jones

And even when New Horizons is not active, the training received will be put to good use since the B.D.F. Engineering Unit will continue to carry out much needed projects.

 

Lt. Col. David Jones

“There’s a project in Sandhill that we’re doing – refurbishment of a classroom and a bathroom for one of the primary schools there. We intend to do refurbishment projects in Crooked Tree. If the government or any organization so requests – because we also partner with B.N.E. in working some construction projects – if the country can benefit from our soldiers I would welcome the opportunity cause the country benefits and I get the training opportunity – not just the opportunity that they got in Haiti to do reconstruction or with New Horizons. We’d also like them to work here in Belize to benefit our own citizens.”

 

So with the obvious success of New Horizons 2013, we were reliably informed that New Horizons 2014 is already being organized. But that’s in the future – for today the sense of a job well done and the gratitude of the community is more than enough.

 

Margaret Hawthorne

“I think there is certainly a sense that this is a very high priority. There has been no talk about cutting this program for next year despite the sequester and the difficult budgetary times and so we definitely expect that these types of programs will continue in the future. We might not see quite as many of them but we hope they will keep going.”

 

Nazira Romero

“I’m very, very grateful and the children of Trial Farm are very excited to come back to school next year because they know that they will be in a new classroom. I just want to say my heartfelt thank you to the US Government, the Canadians and the Belize Defense Force for their efforts in making this dream a success.”

 

The project areas of New Horizons 2014 haven’t been worked out yet, but the timing will be much the same as this year. Mike Rudon for News Five.

 

The new building in Trial Farm will service one hundred students from the upper division. The Canadian members of New Horizons 2013 worked mainly in the health provision section of the exercise. 

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