By Sgt. 1st Class John QueenSeptember 16, 2010
CAMP MIKE SPANN, Afghanistan - Village elders from the Dehdadi District near Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan met with members of the Afghan National Army and the International Security Assistance Force during a ground-breaking ceremony Sept. 2 at Prozah Habida Balkhi Girls School.
The event marked the official start of construction on a six-room facility that will house students next to the school's main building.
"When we first arrived here at the Dehdadi District, up at Camp Mike Spann, (local residents) brought us to this school - there were just broken tents," said Capt. Tim Williams, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion.
On the playground, outside the main school building, there were several tents in various states of disrepair with gaping holes.
Many felt these conditions were not the proper environment for the children to receive their education.
"A month after we were here, we were able to get them new tents," Williams said. "Now we've started this project to provide them a six-room school."
Williams explained the new building will have electricity and a permanent roof providing cover and warmth during the winter months. He said it also will have an indoor garden for children to enjoy.
During the ceremony, prominent community members made several traditional dedications to the ground breaking, one of which was placing decoratively wrapped bricks into the building's foundation to honor special guests who were present at the event.
As the ceremony ended, students from the school joined in the celebration and took the opportunity to meet and share a little laughter with several Soldiers from 1st BSTB.
According to Williams, Dehdadi is one of the districts within Afghanistan that exceeds all educational standards. Approximately 60 percent of the population has a high school education, and as a result, the district has a lower crime rate.