By Air Force Capt. Dustin HartDecember 29, 2008
JALALABAD AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - While people around the world made their final Christmas preparations, members of the Nangarhar Provincial Reconstruction Team and the Chaparhar Police Mentor Team visited a school in the Terelay Village, of the Chaparhar district, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, Dec. 24, 2008, to distribute clothes and school supplies.
The teams first met with several elders from the village allowing the elders to discuss the current conditions in Terelay, the surrounding villages and the district.
"One of the PRT's goals is to bolster education and healthcare within the Nangarhar province," said Army Maj. Gary Knoer, Nangarhar PRT, Civil Affairs team leader. "Our visit today helped us assess the village, school and the needs of the students. By building a school facility that can accommodate the students indoors instead of their current outdoor classrooms, children will be able to attend regardless of weather."
Knoer said improving the conditions in which Afghan children receive a quality education is vital to the long-term stability of the area.
"The education of this generation is very important for the future of the country," he said. "The elders in every village I have visited have expressed this need."
If the project is approved for funding, the PRT hopes to build more classroom facilities and a security wall for the existing school.
Following the meeting, the teams donated several boxes of school supplies, clothes and radios to the elders and school's administrators. The troops also visited a few of the outdoor classes in session to personally hand out some of the supplies.
"These missions have a profound impact on the overall operation here," Knoer said. "The people here are like parents anywhere in the world; they have one priority and that is the needs of their children. When we show them that we care for their children, the same as we would our own, it means more to them than any other thing we could give them."
Knoer said that conducting this mission during the holiday season made it that much more special for the teams.
"There is an extra special feeling doing things this time of year, because it's the time of year we are supposed to be giving," said Knoer, who spent last Christmas serving in Iraq. "I am sure that all of us here would rather be home with our families on Christmas. However, when we look back at our lives in 20-30 years, this will probably be the Christmas that will come to mind before all others."
The Nangarhar Provincial Reconstruction Team is responsible for assisting the provincial, district and local governments in Nangarhar Province with their governance, security and reconstruction efforts. The team is currently working on approximately 60 projects worth more than $75.3 million in the province.
(Air Force Capt. Dustin Hart serves with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division PAO, Nangarhar PRT)