A sod-turning exercise in Linden on Thursday has symbolised the respective commencement of construction of a shelter for abused women and two community centres.Social Protection Minister Amna Ally and US Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch were among those at the sod-turning exerciseThese projects are being undertaken by the United States Military Services, also referred to as the New Horizons. One of the shelters will be constructed at Amelia’s Ward, while the other will be constructed at Blueberry Hill, Wismar.At the sod-turning exercise on Thursday, US Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch noted that this is the third outreach to Guyana by the New Horizons. She noted that the US is committed to building and sustaining relationships with its partner nations.“We look forward to continuing to grow our partnership and our friendship. Just like its previous iterations in 2004 and 2009, which built clinics and schools and provided medical outreaches, this year’s New Horizons’ efforts provide invaluable knowledge and unmatched hands-on experience”, Ambassador Lynch noted.She added that the bilateral nature of the exercise creates a unity of efforts between the two countries to address challenges in the areas of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.Ambassador Lynch also posited that hundreds of Guyanese have already benefited directly from medical outreaches and construction projects undertaken by New Horizons, and thousands more are to benefit in the years to come.Social Protection Minister Amna Ally related that there is much to celebrate and be grateful for, since the community will, for the first time, have a Women’s Shelter.She noted that the US/Guyana partnership has resulted in positive outcomes for the people of Linden, and she said she is looking forward to future partnerships.The Minister noted that the sod-turning ceremony represents the first act of greater things to come, and it would not have been possible without support of the US Government under the New Horizons project.Linden Mayor Waneka Arrindell has said the introduction of a Women’s Shelter is something that the town would always remember, in that it would bring much needed relief to the Region as a whole.She also expressed hope that the shelter would be able to provide services that would help to reduce issues such as teenage pregnancies and child abuse, and provide skills training and literacy services for youths.New Horizons Commander, Colonel Kenneth Bratland, in an overview, alluded to the importance of the projects.“(For) our exercise, New Horizons will bring over 500 airmen, soldiers, sailors and marines into Guyana between February and September of this year. Our primary purpose is to train US Forces (on) how to plan and conduct humanitarian missions in different and challenging conditions. To ensure our conditions are challenging, the first thing we did was to build a base camp for all our personnel to live in. We did this starting in February, and we finished that in May.“With that completed, we are now moved on to the helping phase of this exercise. Our first focus area is providing medical, dental and veterinary assistance at seven events in 15 locations across Guyana,” he detailed.Five of these events, he noted, will take place at seven locations throughout Linden.He highlighted that the first event concluded at the Port Mourant Hospital in Region Six last month, while the second will conclude today (Friday) at the Linden Hospital Complex.Chief-of-Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, Brigadier Patrick West, has said that, with an apparent increase in domestic violence cases, he is heartened that the shelter for women was conceived and earmarked as a priority project.He said realisation of the shelter signals that the men and women in uniform are there to offer support.“It signals that, as military persons, we are in touch with some of the social ills that plague our society… The Joint Services as a whole is committed to providing assistance through whatever provisions are allowed legally by mandate and otherwise to fight against the scourge of domestic violence. I cannot wait to see the completion of this project, and ensure that it is effectively and efficiently utilised by all,” he declared.