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Ceremonies Mark Joint Project Completion in Cambodia

By EO3 Alexander Balaoing, NMCB 4

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Ms. Julie Chung, deputy chief of mission, U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh, provides the final cut to the ribbon to officially open a new two-room maternity ward at Russey Srok Health Center in Kampot, Cambodia, Dec. 5. Photo by UT3 Justin Swain

Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 4 Detail Cambodia recently held ribbon-cutting ceremonies, Dec. 5, to mark the completion of two joint construction efforts with Army engineers from the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF).

The ceremonies for a bathroom facility at the Hun Sen Chamkar Daung High School in Kep Province, and a two-room maternity ward at the Russey Srok Health Center in Kampot recognized two months of joint construction efforts between the Seabee detail and RCAF engineers.

Ms. Julie Chung, deputy chief of mission, U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh, and Lt. Gen. Pen Ra, deputy commander, RCAF Engineering Forces, attended the ceremonies along with locals from the respective areas.

The ribbon-cutting events provided the crews and local community an opportunity to celebrate the completion of both facilities. The ceremonies highlighted the contributions of the Seabees, RCAF engineers, the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh, and local ministries and districts that made the projects possible.

At Hun Sen Chamkar Daung High School in Kep Province, the school’s chorus welcomed guests with the Cambodian National Anthem. Speeches by distinguished visitors lauded the accomplishments of the military engineers and the substantial improvements made to the school.

Chung remarked that the new facility, which doubles the number of toilets previously available to the school’s 850 students, meets a basic sanitation and health need, allowing students to better focus on their learning and personal development. The facility also represents continued dedication by the U.S. Embassy to improving the quality of life in Cambodia through a range of efforts, including those of the Seabees.

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Lt. j.g. Joseph DeMarzo, officer-in-charge, NMCB 4 Detail Cambodia, receives a letter of appreciation from  Mr. Ngoun Chansochitta, chief, Kep Ministry of Education, during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Hun Sen Chamkar Daung High School in Kep, Cambodia, Dec. 5. Photo by UT3 Justin Swain

“We are thankful to the American Embassy and military for the wonderful building they have provided us,” said Mr. Long Sophea, the school’s director. “We promise to diligently maintain this new facility to ensure it serves the students of Hun Sen Chamkar Daung for years to come.”

Shortly after the first ceremony, the Seabees and VIPs traveled to the Russey Srok Health Center in nearby Kampot to commemorate the newly constructed maternity ward. A live band and more than 100 locals greeted the entourage to show their appreciation.

The two-room maternity ward will improve health care for 10 villages with dedicated rooms for pre- and postnatal care. Built with innovative water catchment and solar power systems, the facility also provides critical utilities needed by the ward.

“Infant mortality in Cambodia is amongst the highest in the world and this new facility will support our Ministry’s continued efforts to reduce that rate,” said Mr. Tang Cheng, deputy director, Kampot Ministry of Health. “We have drastically decreased infant mortality since 2005 and look to continue that trend in Kampot and Cambodia.”

Lt. Gen. Pen Ra added remarks, highlighting the strong bond the Seabees and RCAF have developed over the past two months of construction and pledging his support for continued partnerships between the two units.

As the Seabees and their RCAF counterparts left the ceremony for the next project location, the local community delivered resounding applause. The partnerships built by the detail and the RCAF have left an impression in the southern province that the Seabees plan to replicate across Cambodia.

“The hospitality and warm welcome we receive by the local communities is incredible and these ribbon- cutting ceremonies allow us to celebrate with those who appreciate our work the most,” said Lt. j.g. Joseph DeMarzo, detail officer-in-charge. “We are incredibly proud and honored to serve these communities and work with our RCAF engineering counterparts.”

The Seabees of NMCB 4 plan to complete two additional bathroom facilities in Sihanoukville and Kampot provinces before February, and they will continue to work with RCAF Army engineers to support U.S. Embassy initiatives across Cambodia.

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Ms. Julie Chung, deputy chief of mission, U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh, shares remarks with the crowd during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for a two-room maternity ward at the Russey Srok Health Center in Kampot, Cambodia, Dec. 5. The ceremony marked the official turnover of the project completed by the Seabees in partnership with Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) Engineers. The facility supports U.S. Embassy initiatives to improve maternal healthcare across Cambodia. Photo by EO3 Alexander Balaoing


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