Guard Unit Gives Schools A Hand

Guard Unit Gives Schools A Hand
May 22nd, 2007  
Team Infidel

Topic: Guard Unit Gives Schools A Hand

Guard Unit Gives Schools A Hand
Columbia (SC) State
May 21, 2007
Pg. B1
S.C. soldiers provide supplies for students
By Chuck Crumbo
KABUL, Afghanistan -- Moments after the last load of desks, school supplies and tents were unloaded Friday, Afghan school principal Mohammad Rafi had a another request for Lt. Col. Chuck Murff.
Could the S.C. National Guard's Murff find a way to drill a new well for Rafi's school, which has an enrollment of 6,700 students?
Such are the needs of just one Afghan school.
Murff of Spartanburg expects to hear many more similar requests over the next year as the civil affairs unit of the S.C. National Guard's 218th Brigade Combat Team takes command of Task Force Phoenix.
A public school teacher at Beech Springs Intermediate School in Spartanburg District 5, Murff also understands Rafi's needs.
"It probably costs $2,000 to $3,000 for a well," Murff said.
"We have 70 schools just in Kabul that have submitted" a list of needs, he added. "We will do what we can with the funds that we have."
Rafi and his staff at the Naswan Girls High School seemed to appreciate what the S.C. troops were able to do Friday.
"When the kids come back to school, they will see the new tents and new desks," Rafi said through an interpreter. "They will be happy."
"We're very happy to help our Afghan brothers," Murff responded.
Humanitarian aid missions like the S.C. troops performed Friday are part of the U.S. military strategy to win the war for the hearts and minds of the Afghan people.
"We made their lives a little more comfortable, that's what our jobs are," said Sgt. 1st Class Barbara Carter of Newberry.
The goodwill gained from Afghans also should make it safer for U.S. troops to operate in the area and harder for the Taliban-led insurgency to gain a foothold, commanders said.
The mission to Naswan Girls High, located in the heart of the war-torn, Southwest Asian country's capital of 4 million, was arranged by Murff's predecessor, Maj. Rob Fraser of the Oregon National Guard.
But efforts were made to put an Afghan face on the mission.
Afghan Army troops escorted and provided security for a convoy of four U.S. vehicles.
At the school, Afghan soldiers guarded the perimeter and watched over a small group of children who gathered near its front gate. The children were out of school because Friday is the Muslim Sabbath day.
The school, which is run by the Afghan government, is coeducational through the fourth grade. From the fifth grade on, it teaches only girls.
When the Taliban ruled from the late 1980s through 2001, the school was closed to girls, said assistant principal Zarmeeha As Mahtsamdi. Girls were not supposed to be educated, the Taliban said.
The school's faculty of 125 teachers and 20 aides offers the educational basics, including chemistry, math, physics and geology, As Mahtsamdi said.
Because its enrollment is so large, the school day is broken down into three shifts, six days a week.
"We respect and we appreciate what has been done for the future of the Afghan people so that we may have a peaceful life," As Mahtsamdi said.
After the supplies were delivered, and the soldiers and local workers pitched one of the tents, Rafi insisted everyone enjoy the Afghan custom of sweet snacks and hot chai, or tea.
The trip to the school was an eye-opener for the S.C. troops, who got a firsthand look at the abject poverty that plagues Afghanistan.
"What you commonly see here are things that are not even visible in the worst neighborhood in South Carolina," said Lt. Brunson DePass of Columbia. "But we all have a common thread and that is to care for our fellow human beings."
May 22nd, 2007  
Thats good to hear the something like that from the S.C. National Guard. They are one of the units from my area that recently deployed back to the Middle East.

In my personal opinion, I always had more positive outlooks on Afghanistan , than on Iraq. Thats just my gut feeling however.

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