Haiti - Humanitarian : Opening Ceremony of the Mission «New Horizons Haiti 2011»
Kenneth H. Merten, U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Haiti, recognized the special nature of the Haiti – U.S. relationship by noting that, immediately following the devastating earthquake in Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010, President Barack Obama committed the entire U.S. government to help rebuild the country. The New Horizons Haiti missions of 2010 and 2011, both headquartered in Mandrin and serving the citizens of the Artibonite Department, are extensions of the U.S. military's role in that assistance, Merten said.
"Here in Mandrin, it is the New Horizons mission that has made a difference... Last year, Task Force Kout Men built schools and provided medical, dental, and veterinary care to the local population. Continuing last year's effort, Task Force Bon Voizen will build a school and two medical facilities, and provide medical services for the people of the Artibonite region," Merten said. "They are carrying out this mission in coordination with the Haitian government, especially the Ministries of Education and Health, as well as other local leaders. It was the Haitian government that identified the various towns where the clinics and construction will take place. The U.S. government will continue to work with you [citizens of the Artibonite Department] in confronting the issues that you identify so that you can realize your vision of a better future," continued Merten.
Maj. Gen. Simeon Trombitas, commander of U.S. Army South, and the commander of Task Force Bon Voizen, Col. Kenneth Donnelly, La. Army National Guard, echoed the ambassador's sentiments regarding the importance of the relationship between the governments and citizens of Haiti and the United States. "Throughout these trying times, the citizens of Haiti have proved themselves to be proud, strong and persevering people,” said Trombitas. As we ready to respond in the event of future natural disasters, we also continue our commitment to reconstruction efforts through future New Horizons exercises in coordination with the Government of Haiti. The members of the task force, including partners from Belize, Colombia and Canada are here to make a difference."
The opening ceremony closed with a symbolic ground breaking activity. Donnelly and Command Sgt. Major Homer Stelly, senior enlisted leader for the task force, directed the official party to don hard hats and secure shovels. Once properly equipped, they tossed some dirt to signify the official beginning of engineer and medical operations.
Learn more about New Horizons 2011 :
Task Force Bon Voizen, New Horizons Haiti 2011, is a Commander, U.S. Southern Command sponsored, U.S. Army South conducted, joint foreign military interaction/humanitarian exercise deploying U.S. military engineers and medical professionals to Haiti for training and to provide humanitarian services. Task Force Bon Voizen will build a school, two medical clinics and one latrine facility, as well as staff three medical clinics and one dental clinic between April 28 and June 25 in the Artibonite Department.