PARAMARIBO – Thirty members of the South Dakota National Guard arrived in Suriname via an Iowa National Guard KC-135 on April 11. Their visit is part of a joint two-week engineering program with Suriname’s Ministries of Defense and Education to renovate schools in rural and underserved communities.
As part of its State Partnership Program, the South Dakota National Guard has conducted joint school renovation projects with Suriname since 2016. This year, it will renovate three schools for a total donation of $90,000 in renovation materials with an additional $49,000 in donations of school supplies from the U.S. Southern Command. Work will begin on April 12 and the group will depart on April 24. Each student at the schools will receive a backpack of school supplies and each school will receive art supplies and a storage cabinet as part of the donation.
The program will continue for the foreseeable future. Previous schools renovated include OS Santo Dorp (2016), OS Majo Steeg (2017), OS Raka Raka (2018), OS Mastklimmen (2019), and OS Mariënburg (2022) at a total cost of almost $60,000.
Ambassador Robert Faucher commented: “This project is a shining example of the best cooperation between the United States and Suriname. Education is essential to creating strong democracies, and we want to support Suriname as it strengthens its democracy. These exercises also build relationships and experience that we can rely on in times of crisis as well as times of peace.”