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U.S. Donations Help Afghan Children, Widows

By Air Force Capt. Tony Wickman
Special to American Forces Press Service

CAMP WRIGHT, Afghanistan, Sept. 24, 2009 – More than 500 widows, orphans and disabled people from the Asadabad district of northeastern Afghanistan’s Konar province received much-needed supplies from the United States.

Members of the Konar Provincial Reconstruction Team on Sept. 17 turned over more than 4,000 pounds of supplies -- everything from blankets, pots and pans and tarps to hygiene and dental kits, sandals and backpacks – for the provincial government to distribute. The donations were made by U.S. citizens, companies and nongovernment agencies.

U.S. forces received the goods from the humanitarian assistance yard at Bagram Airfield and sent them here for distribution, said Army Spc. John Nelson, the team's civil-military operations/humanitarian assistance noncommissioned officer in charge. It is the team's largest coordinated effort to date with regard to the number of people they helped, he said.

“We’re expecting to provide assistance to 250 orphans, 250 widows and 100 disabled people today,” he said.

The provincial governor in coordination with district leaders decided an assistance effort was needed, said Fazal Hakim Safi, deputy field program officer to the team from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Fazullah Wahidi “saw the logic for the aid gift and decided the people needed help,” Safi said. “He is [establishing] a committee to handle humanitarian assistance, but wanted to help the people of Asadabad now.”

One grateful person was a young boy named Hammed, clutching a backpack and soccer ball.

“I am happy to have something just for me, it’s very nice,” Hammed said as he walked to the street with his new items.

Nelson noted that these kinds of missions are helping establish the legitimacy of the provincial government.

“This mission was coordinated through the provincial governor and Asadabad mayor,” he said. “It allows us to help local citizens to support their families by giving the government practice handing out humanitarian assistance items to take care of their people, which increases the visibility and capacity of the government.”

(Air Force Capt. Tony Wickman serves with the Konar Provincial Reconstruction Team public affairs.)

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