Provincial Reconstruction Team Visits Afghan Orphanages
By Staff Sgt. Keith Thompson, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
BAGRAM, Afghanistan, Jan. 9, 2004 For Jamshid, a scholarly Afghan 7th grade student, Jan. 6 was a big day Americans were coming along with the provincial police chief and other government officials.
Maj. Carman Oldre of the Parwan Provincial Reconstruction Team plays "Duck, Duck, Goose" with a group of Afghan children at an orphanage where the team's soldiers delivered school supplies, clothes, toys and candy donated by people in the United States. Photo by Staff Sgt. Keith Thompson, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"I am really thankful for you guys coming," said Jamshid, thankful for the humanitarian aid delivered by the Parwan Provincial Reconstruction Team.
The team delivered boxes of school supplies, clothes, candy and toys collected from donations from the United States to the two orphanages.
Another important delivery to the orphanages was the message that the Afghan government and the U.S. military have the orphans' interests in their hearts and will not forget them, according to Army Maj. Carman Oldre, Parwan PRT Civil Affairs Team commander.
"I can tell by your hard work and the smiles on your faces that Afghanistan has a very bright future," said Oldre as she addressed the children.
Other members of the team also expressed their support for the humanitarian aid program. "I think humanitarian aid is a good way to support Afghanistan," said Capt. Kim In Soo, one of the Republic of Korea Army soldiers on the Parwan PRT.
According to Gul Agha, the principal for one of the orphanages, the supplies were very much appreciated by both the teachers and children. He said the supplies and clothes were needed and will be put to good use during the school year.
Kim said the humanitarian aid program is best used on orphanages and other places where the need is great but resources are limited.
"Sometimes the Afghans just expect something for free when they see U.S. or Korean soldiers," he said. "Orphanages and other places that need welfare are where (humanitarian aid) should go."
With the supplies going to the right place, Kim said the distribution went off without a hitch.
"It went very smooth," he said. "Sometimes we have difficulty and the distribution is a mess, but today it was good."
Some of the PRT members even had a chance to play with the children.
At one orphanage, Oldre took time to teach all the children how to play the American games of "Simon Says" and "Duck, Duck, Goose," while the children taught the PRT soldiers how to play the Afghan game of "The Wolf and Sheep."
Although the visit with the soldiers and government officials was short, Jamshid will now have plenty of pens and paper to write any speeches for future visits from the Afghan government or U.S. military.
(Army Staff Sgt. Keith Thompson is assigned to the 4th Public Affairs Detachment.)