By Sue Brink, NAVFAC Southeast Public Affairs OfficeLES CAYES, Haiti (NNS) -- Haitian students attend ribbon cutting events Jan. 10 for the inauguration of newly-constructed community clusters at Les Cayes and Torbeck, both located within the Sud Department of Haiti as part of U.S. Southern Command's Humanitarian Assistance Program (HAP).
"Each community cluster built by the United States for the local municipality consists of an eight-classroom school, community center building, medical clinic, and water well. The complex provides much needed facilities to the local population," explained Lt. j.g. Don Pasteur, the resident officer in charge of construction (ROICC) Haiti with Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southeast. "They will also function as evacuation centers in the case of hurricanes or other natural disasters."
The community clusters are part of eight similar community cluster projects that were awarded by NAVFAC in Jacksonville, Fla. The lead contractor on the Les Cayes and Torbeck community clusters is Palgag Building Technologies.
"School children were singing a welcome song and presenting flowers as the ceremony began," said Pasteur. "This was a wonderful thank you displayed by the children to the U.S. Ambassador to Haiti, the Minister of Education, and the Minister of Public Health."
Participants in the inauguration ceremony included The Honorable Pamela White, U.S. Ambassador to Haiti; Serge Chery, Departmental Delegate, Government of Haiti; Cmdr. Richter Tipton, Senior Defense Official, U.S. Embassy; Vanneur Pierre, Minister of Education, Government of Haiti; and Florence D Guillaume, Minister of Public Health, Government of Haiti.
Also in attendance were the Mayors of Les Cayes and Torbeck, Pasteur, and Sgt. 1st Class Roland Laforest, the U.S. Southern Command HAP program manager.
The celebrations will continue as additional projects are completed in the Haiti program. The next big event is tentatively scheduled for mid-February with a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Emergency Operations Center and Disaster Relief Warehouse in Les Cayes.