STUTTGART, Germany – Army civil engineers from the United States and Macedonia, together with local civilian contractors, partnered to renovate the Femo Kulakov Kindergarten in Negotino, Macedonia, during the month of August.
Earlier this month, Army reservists from the 412th Engineer Company out of Scranton, Penn., arrived in Negotino and began work on the Femo Kulakov Kindergarten. Nine U.S. Army civil engineers worked side-by-side with nine Macedonian army civil engineers and two local contractors to complete the $35,000 renovation project. The renovations will save energy, prevent water damage and generally improve learning conditions for the children who attend the school.
“It's been a pleasure to partner with army soldiers from the Republic of Macedonia and civilian contractors. This humanitarian civic assistance (HCA) mission is a great example of how two countries’ militaries are jointly advancing the capabilities of engineers,” said U.S. Army Reserve Master Sgt. Darryl Cheatham.
The contract company MEDA-3 provided all 120 frames, 250 windows, 14 doors and on-the-job training to both Macedonian and U.S. Soldiers on the proper installation of the doors and windows.
"I’ve not only earned a greater view of my job, but I have also earned a greater global view," said U.S. Army Reserve Spc. David Manheimer.
Humanitarian projects like the Femo Kulakov Kindergarten renovation provide Soldiers practical training experience, while offering exposure to other cultures, perspectives and engineering best practices.
HCA projects like this also offer U.S. military members a means to build trust and develop long lasting mutually beneficial relationships with other partner nations’ militaries.
"I’ve developed new relationships with the Macedonian soldiers and civilians that will last a lifetime," said U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. Jeffrey Grimes.
Renovation of the kindergarten was completed Aug. 25, and a ribbon cutting ceremony was held Aug. 26. The project was a partnership between the U.S. and the Republic of Macedonia through the combined efforts of U.S. European Command, 412th Theater Engineer Command, Army of the Republic of Macedonia, Office of Defense Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy Skopje and the Femo Kulakov Kindergarten in Negotino.
“Working with the Macedonians has reshaped a common understanding that no matter who we are, working together as a team to overcome challenges for a common goal can bring out the best in us all,” said U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Col. James Lews, engineer and planner for the 412th Theater Engineer Command.