EUCOM supports Namibian multipurpose center

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (USAFENS) — U.S. European Command recently teamed with U.S. Air Forces in Europe and the U.S. Embassy, Windhoek, Namibia, to complete an extension to the Ongwediva Town Hall in Namibia worth more than $282,000.

The construction project, which began August 2004 and was completed Feb. 4, increases opportunities for a positive platform for Department of Defense efforts in Namibia, said Paula Battistoni, EUCOM humanitarian assistance program manager.

"This project promotes regional stability, security, democratization and access," she said. "It will strengthen the Namibian governments' and host nation publics' goodwill and perception of the United States and the DOD."

The new multipurpose center, which will be officially dedicated in April, can be used for adult vocational training, youth education programs, child care programs, HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness programs and many other community-based requirements, said Battistoni.

"The center will primarily be used to help the Ongwediva community, the center of the most densely populated region of Namibia, deal with the spreading HIV/AIDS epidemic," said Battistoni.

The battle against HIV/AIDS is a continuing concern in Namibia, where 21.3% of the population test HIV positive, according to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS.

The construction of the center has an effect, not only on the Ongwediva community, but on the people that worked on it.

"It is a great feeling watching a project start from a dirt pit to a completed building," said Tech. Sgt. John Fife, 48th Contracting Squadron contracting officer, who volunteered last year to head up the project and has coordinated with Embassy staff on progress.

The multipurpose center is one of 25 humanitarian assistance projects supported by USAFE contracting in countries ranging from Mali and Tunisia to Belarus and Bulgaria . The construction projects are as varied as their locations; they range from health centers and schools to solar-powered wells and women's shelters, said Capt. Jack Jackman, USAFE humanitarian assistance program coordinator.

The contracts infuse money into the local economy, said Jackman. "Not only does the local contractor benefit, but so do the laborers he hires, the suppliers they buy from and so on."

Humanitarian assistance programs demonstrate U.S. commitment and increase interaction with foreign governments, said Jackman.

"These projects support the Global War on Terrorism by building goodwill with other nations and their governments," he said.

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