Helmand citizens open 180-student girls' school
February 24, 2011
KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 19, 2011 -- More than 300 local citizens attended a ribbon cutting celebrating the opening of the Laki Girls School in Garmsir district, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Feb. 15.
"In a district where we literally just cleared the Taliban from walking the streets, you've got a community that's willing to step forward and open a girls school," said Lt. Col. Matthew Reid, commander, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regimen, Patrol Base Gorgak.
According to the commanding officer, the Laki citizens suggested the idea of the school opening to coalition forces. In fact, the girls school has a bit of a history in Laki.
"Before Taliban occupation, it was a women's center, said Staff Sgt. George Saggeth, a team chief with 3rd Civil Affairs Group. "However, the Taliban prohibited women from gathering in public and closed the facility."
Now, the facility is ready for approximately 180 female students. It consists of six eight-by-five-foot rooms, a teacher's lounge, a water pump, latrines and a guard post, which will be manned by local security personnel.
Saggeth said planning for the girls school began five months ago.
An Afghan National Police station stands approximately a kilometer from the school. On a regular basis, Marines meet there with Amir Sha Jahn, the local police chief. The police and Marines team up with Afghan National Army soldiers to patrol local villages.
Together, coalition forces survey the residents about potential civil affairs projects like the girls school. They ask how projects are coming and take suggestions for new ones.
After the girls school, civil affairs work in Laki continues, and for the Laki community, a boys school in the nearby village of Shah Wali Kahn is underway, and Saggeth predicts it will be finished in three months.