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Rebuilt School Opens Doors for Afghanistan's Future

By Sgt. Johnny A. Thompson, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

SAYAD, Afghanistan, Oct. 28, 2003 – It is apparent in the eyes of the children here that the youth of Afghanistan need action today to have a brighter tomorrow.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Students march to the ceremonial tent singing songs of praise in opening ceremonies for their rebuilt school in Sayad, Afghanistan, Oct. 22. Photo by Sgt. Johnny A. Thompson, USA

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Taking a bold step toward that promising future, the Sofi Baba Girle High School officially opened it doors in a ceremony Oct. 22 after a coalition reconstruction project.

"Today is a grand day (for the community of Sayad). Your school is ready to receive students," said Lt. Col. Elizabeth Damonte, Provincial Reconstruction Team commander of Parwan and Kapisa.

More than 600 people attended the opening, including the mayor and the education minister of Bagram and Sayad's ministers of information and culture and of education.

In her speech, Damonte thanked the contractors and the community for their contributions in building the school. She suggested that everyone involved in the school project would see the rewards of their labor: children getting a quality education. "Back home I'm a science teacher, and I know the joy of education and educating children."

The reconstruction project took a little more than five months to complete. In the meantime, the children of Sayad had to attend school in tents, under tarps, and in open fields. According to Maj. Carman Oldre, 407th Civil Affairs Battalion, some families volunteered their homes to house classes.

The reconstruction project was completed by ARA Construction Company.

Before the ceremony began, guests and province elders toured the school while workers were inside the school's courtyard assembling desks for the empty classrooms. "The rooms of the school will be hollow no more; soon they'll be filled with students," Damonte said during her remarks at the ceremony. She expressed gratitude to the reconstruction team, and reminded them of their lasting contribution. "I thank you now," she said, "and the children and all of Afghanistan will thank you in the future."

(Army Sgt. Johnny A. Thompson is assigned to the 4th Public Affairs Detachment.)

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