By Spc. Cynthia Teears Van CleveApril 26, 2010
MAZAR E SHARIF, Afghanistan - The Soldiers of the Female Engagement Team, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, had their first opportunity to interact with the local female population by going to a school and meeting the female students at Rabai Balkhaey Fatima in Mazar e Sharif, Afghanistan, April 21.
There are 5,000 students and 140 teachers, said Breshana Karamat, principal of Rabai Balkhaey Fatima. The school is in a good area and is famous right now.
"Usually in Afghanistan there are 30 students per class, but here we don't say we are full," Karamat said. "We still take students as long as they show interest."
The FET was visiting the school to meet with the principal, teachers and students. During the engagement a few gifts were shared.
"We talked the other day about some improvements that need to be made to the school to better round it out for the students," said Capt. Lisa Kirby, the commander and leader of the FET, 1st BCT. "It is a beautiful school, but there are still a few improvements needed to round it out."
The lack of running water is one of the problems the school and community deal with daily.
"We have a beautiful building, but no water," Karamat said. "The other day when it rained we had no water to clean with and mop the floors."
The girls of the school welcomed the Soldiers with smiles and curiosity. A few spoke English and introduced themselves.
"We had a party in this place ten minutes ago," said Noria, a 17 year-old senior of Rabai Balkhaey Fatima. "We were celebrating putting up a tablet about the Holy Koran. My class wrote out on paper what we wanted on the tablet, then we raised money and paid a stone maker to engrave it. We celebrated putting it up on the wall today."
Many of the teachers and students gathered in an auditorium to meet the Soldiers, but not all the school was able to attend.
"These are some of the teachers and students in the school," Noria said. "There are more still in class."
During the meeting many Soldiers and students took pictures of each other and as the Soldiers departed, hugs and waves of friendship were exchanged.