Mission to Africa – Casablanca

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Desks were sanded and repaired before being painted.  Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Victoria Bonk
Desks were sanded and repaired before being painted. Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Victoria Bonk

This week we had another port call and this time we were in Casablanca, Morocco. We took time to leave our mark on the city and community of Casablanca.

Thirty-eight of the Mohawk’s crew headed to a local primary school and used some good old-fashioned elbow grease to make it a better place for the children who attend school there.

Three of the classrooms were completely made-over with a bright yellow and blue paint scheme.  Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Victoria Bonk
Three of the classrooms were completely made-over with a bright yellow and blue paint scheme. Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Victoria Bonk

The children were on their summer break so we got right to work Thursday morning. We spend the whole day fixing up three classrooms. The classrooms had faded and chipped paint, broken desks, burnt out light bulbs and needed a good sweep and swab. We started out by moving all the furniture out into the courtyard and sanding. We sanded the walls and all the desks. Some desks were in really bad shape and needed more than just sanding so we had some of the crew replacing desks tops and seats to make them safe and more comfortable for the children.

To keep things running smoothly the crew split into groups; there was the sanding and painting for the classrooms group, the desks repair group and the desk sanding and painting group. There was plenty of work to go around.

Throughout the day some crew members went above and beyond did other little things around the school. A few fixed and painted the basketball hoops in the courtyard and another group made a teacher’s desk look extra special by adding their art work to the front on it. They made a the “The Hand of Fatima” which is a good luck symbol out of wood and painted to match the colors of the classroom.

“When I first visited the school I was disheartened by what I saw and knew right then and there that I would do everything I could to help improve the conditions of the local school,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Richard Moore, a damage controlman aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk. “I was very happy when I was given the opportunity to apply my carpentry skills by helping to repair over 30 desks, build a drawer for a teacher’s desk and constructed a decorative medallion for the front of another.”

“It was amazing to be able to help out those children in Casablanca. The look on this small child’s face when he saw the finished project was priceless,” said Ensign Patricia Ohle, the combat information center officer aboard the Mohawk. “I am really glad Mohawk was able to help the city even if it was just in one small way.”

“It didn’t hit me on how effective our work was until one of the elementary school student’s walked in and had a smile from ear to ear,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Shawn Cooper, a maritime enforcement specialist aboard the Mohawk.

Fifteen gallons of paint and seven hours later, the three classrooms were bright , brand new and ready for the start of new school year.

“It would be amazing to see the children’s faces when they come back to school next year. I can only imagine how much we improved their lives in a matter of a few hours. It’s truly and awesome feeling of accomplishment, said Petty Officer 1st Class Michelle Holzer, the yeoman aboard the Mohawk.

Keeping checking the Compass for more Mohawk updates and photos. Mohawk photos can also be found in this Flickr set.

PA3 Victoria Bonk, CGC Mohawk

Thirty-eight Mohawk crew helped clean the school.  Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Victoria Bonk
Thirty-eight Mohawk crew helped clean the school. Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Victoria Bonk

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