SONSONATE, El Salvador – A water purification engineer participating in a humanitarian mission here has witnessed firsthand the effects that humanitarian missions can have on a country, including his own, and he is determined to share his experience with the world.
Army Sgt. Francis Buor is originally from Liberia. Assigned to the 753rd Quartermaster Company, Green Bay, Wis., he is participating in Beyond the Horizon-El Salvador, a humanitarian mission in which U.S. servicemembers, along with soldiers from Canada, Chile, Colombia and El Salvador, are providing medical expertise and building schools to improve lives of residents here.
Buor’s perspective is giving him the opportunity to help bring peace and stability to regions that need these attributes, he said.
“This is my first opportunity to deploy with the Army,” he said. “I’m really excited about it. When I was in the schools here, I couldn’t help but think, ‘Is someone great going to come out of one of these schools?’ It’s inspiring to be doing this work.”
Buor’s parents are both from Ghana, but they moved with their family to Liberia to provide a better life for their children. He returned to Ghana to attend school there, and not long after, a civil war broke out in Liberia that would last for many years.
A multinational Western African armed force called the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group soon began providing transportation for those wishing to leave Liberia, including most of his family, back to Ghana, he said. This intervention made a significant impact on his family, he added, and motivated him to begin a life of service that continues to this day.
In the early 1990s, Buor sought employment at a water treatment facility in Ghana, where he worked as a treatment specialist and provided drinking water to several communities. The work was fulfilling, he said, but in 2009, he decided to seek a new life in the United States, serving with what he calls “the greatest Army in the world.”
Buor earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology in Ghana and moved to Wisconsin, where he joined the Army. His history with water treatment and sociology directed him to the Wisconsin National Guard’s 753rd Quartermaster Battalion, where he has been able to exercise his skills to help others, he said.
“Everything I’ve done before, I’ve had the chance to practice it here,” Buor said. “It gives me a sense of accomplishment. I’m putting to use something I’ve learned before.”
His unit’s participation in this humanitarian mission is his first chance to leave the United States as a Guardsman. Contributing to this effort allows him to provide services he has been practicing his entire life, he said.
“My motivation was from seeing what goes on around the world,” he added. “Sometimes you ask yourself, ‘If we don’t do what we’re doing, what would the life of these people be like?’ So you want to look at the greater picture.”
His unit’s contributions here have made about 6,000 gallons of potable water per day available for the local people.
“I’m kind of excited,” Buor said. “We’re doing something meaningful. But the reward comes when you see the children’s smiles, and how much they appreciate what we’re doing here. It comes from making these children happy.”