CHISINAU, Moldova — In a small corner of the world, there is a school that resides in the poorest country in Europe — the Republic of Moldova. This particular school is a special needs school that accommodates students from the ages of kindergarten through high school. In Chisinau, Moldova, more than 150 students, who are to some degree deaf or blind, learn how to become active and functional members of society.
Until recently, School 12 operated every school year with aging and dilapidated restrooms and shower rooms. Troubled by constant leaks, broken toilets, crumbling tiles and faulty wiring, the school’s principal reached out for assistance.
Understanding the importance of a safe educational environment and the sensitive nature of Moldovan and U.S. ties, the Office of Defense Cooperation and the U.S. Embassy in Moldova took on the challenge of repairing the school.
Lt. Col. Brendan Bartlett, chief of the Moldovan ODC, looked toward the 435th Air Ground Operations Wing’s Construction and Training Squadron for support.
The 435th CTS’s Military Construction Flight sent a mixed team of carpenters; plumbers; electricians; surveyors; heating, ventilation and air conditioning technicians; and heavy equipment specialists to tackle the project. In addition, two more carpenters from the 786th Civil Engineer Squadron assisted with the endeavor.
Led by Staff Sgt. Clifford Daniel, 435th CTS project manager, four restrooms, two locker rooms and two shower rooms were renovated. Originally programmed by the ODC to complete the project in three phases over the course of three summer breaks, MCF completed the project in only 75 days.
Construction began with the complete gutting of the rooms so that all new construction materials and fixtures could be installed. Each room was then outfitted with new plumbing pipes and electrical circuits to feed water heaters and hand dryers that didn’t exist prior to the start of the project.
Afterward, all floor and wall tiles were replaced, and several coats of paint were added. Once the tiling was complete, each restroom was supplied with three new toilets and sinks. In two of the lower level restrooms, toilets for the handicapped were installed to better meet the needs of the students. Finally, toilet partitions were installed along with new windows and doors.
The locker and shower rooms were also completely renovated in a similar fashion. With new tile, paint, lockers and shower fixtures, these rooms once again became a functional part of the gymnasium. The new accommodations will allow students to shower and change after their daily physical training class, drastically improving sanitation conditions.
Before the team departed, the school was provided with supplies to help upkeep their new sanitation facilities. These supplies included over 500 rolls of toilet paper, 20 three-gallon jugs of hand soap, mops, brooms, toilet and sink cleaners, and toilet brushes.
To show their thanks and appreciation, the students honored the Airmen with a traditional Moldovan dance performance during the project’s ribbon cutting ceremony.
As the project came to a successful close, each member of the 435th CTS expressed how much it meant to make such a huge difference in a child’s life, in a small corner of Europe and in a country some people have never even heard of.