Mosque opening symbolizes hope, partnership in Kandahar
April 7, 2011
KABUL, Afghanistan, April 2, 2011 -- Residents of Arghandab district, Kandahar province came together in celebration, yesterday, as villagers and International Security Assistance Forces participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony for a new mosque in Tarok Kolache.
The mosque is the first completed structure in a massive joint reconstruction effort by Tarok Kolache landowners and ISAF since the village, previously a Taliban stronghold, was destroyed in October in an effort to rid it of insurgents and large quantities of improvised explosive devices.
"Before Afghan and coalition forces cleared this area, farmers and residents were unable to get safely to their orchards and homes," said Tooryalai Wesa, governor of Kandahar province. "Now the villagers and farmers feel safe and are eager to return to their homes and help rebuild their village."
A commander with 1st Afghan National Army Battalion, 1st ANA Brigade, 205th Hero Corps and coalition forces partnered together to begin construction efforts in order to establish a combat outpost in Tarok Kolache, said Lt. Col David S. Flynn, a commander with coalition forces.
"The new outpost was built to prevent Taliban intimidation and demonstrate the combined joint task force's commitment to security and reconstruction efforts in the village," Flynn said.
The process to rebuild the mosque was developed by Tarok Kolache landowners and residents with little assistance from coalition forces, according to Capt. Patrick McGuigan, a coalition forces battalion fire support officer.
Coalition members facilitated conversation between landowners and potential contractors. After collectively picking a contractor to rebuild the mosque, a ground-breaking ceremony was conducted and landowners began supervising the day-to-day rebuilding of the mosque with help of local residents, according to McGuigan.
"This time last year, we were unable to even think about building a mosque in Tarok Kolache," said Wesa. "Now, thanks to the support, hard work, dedication and sacrifice of our security forces; governance, security and development are strong here."
Though the mosque opening ceremony is a success in the reconstruction process of Tarok Kolache, there is still much work to be done to help the village get back on its feet, McGuigan said.
Future plans for Tarok Kolache include finishing the rebuilding process for every home destroyed and identifying projects that will make land in and around the village more valuable, according to McGuigan.
Throughout the reconstruction process, landowners and residents of Tarok Kolache have worked side-by-side with coalition Soldiers to make their village stronger, more secure and more productive than it was before the Taliban took it over, according to McGuigan.