By Spc. Nathan Goodall, 170th Infantry Brigade Combat TeamAugust 30, 2011
DEH DADI, Afghanistan, Aug. 30, 2011 -- The U.S. Army has teams that specialize in different tasks, such as training Soldiers during simulated war or teaching Soldiers how to parachute from an airplane. When it comes to helping the women of Afghanistan, the Army has teams for that too.
Soldiers with a female engagement team, 40th Engineer Battalion, 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team delivered medical supplies to a health clinic here June 1.
The female soldiers were greeted by crowds of bouncing children and smiling villagers. They'd met with the district governor and the women in town several times and the welcome was typical, said Spc. Katherine Bauer, a Soldier with the team.
The all-female team works with women in Balkh province, something many Soldiers can't do because of cultural boundaries.
"Our job is to engage [Afghan] females and find out how they feel about the community, how they feel they can improve their lives, and what we can do to help them get to where they want to be," Bauer said.
The last time the Soldiers spoke with the governor and local women, they identified a lack of medical supplies in the district. This time, they put that information into action and brought medical supplies to the clinic.
"It was so rewarding to be there and meet the people so they can see that their Afghan representatives, partnered with the U.S. Army, can actually help them and make their lives a little better," Bauer said.
Because of the team's unique ability to hear the voice of Afghan women, their existence is key in helping the local government create a stable environment, she said.
"There tends to be a lack of addressing women's needs," said Staff Sgt. Samira Abdullahmuhammad, a member of the team. "Being able to identify that allows American forces, as well as Afghan forces, to address a population that has kind of been ignored for a while."
"They're very appreciative of us being here and it shows in the way they greet us. It shows in the way they provide us with the information of what they need. And every time we come around it becomes more of a family relationship instead of a partnership," she added.
Abdullahmuhammad and Bauer expressed their passion toward aiding a government that wants to help its people.
"It's an amazing feeling and I would continue to do this as long as I can," said Abdullahmuhammad.
"I definitely think that the 40th Engineer Battalion has all the right ideas about how to reach out to the community and work with the Afghan officials to help them reach out as well," said Bauer.
"I'm really proud to be a part of this unit, and I think we're definitely taking steps closer to having Afghanistan be its own country, run by its own people," she said.