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PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Hala Hushawa, Paktika’s new director of women’s affairs, meets with female engagement team members from the Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team here Nov. 7. Hushawa and team members discussed the needs of Paktika’s female population including Islamic classes and healthcare. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Ashley N. Avecilla, Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team Public Affairs)

PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team’s female engagement team conducted their first meeting with Hala Hushawa, Paktika’s new director of women’s affairs, here Nov. 7.

Through questions, explanations and laughter, members of the FET established a relationship with Hushawa and learned how the PRT can assist her in meeting the needs of Paktika’s females.

“At first it will be hard to do work here,” Hushawa said. “I need your help. You came from a foreign country to help us, and we will do everything we can.”

Despite the challenges she expects to encounter, Hushawa’s face lit up with excitement as she expressed her interest in working with the women of Paktika.

“There are problems for women and kids in all of Afghanistan,” Hushawa said. “But I want to help the females and kids in Paktika.”

Hushawa explained her plan to arrange Islamic classes for the female population first and then move on to their education and beyond.

“I’m working on hiring more women in my directorate,” Hushawa said. “I will then call the tribe leaders to tell them we want to work with women.”

The FET’s physician’s assistant, U.S. Navy Lt. j.g. Tamora Holland from Pittsburgh, Pa., discussed female medical needs with the DoWA. Holland works closely with Paktika’s minister of public health and encouraged Hushawa to do the same.

“I would like you to be an integral part of everything we do medically in the province,” Holland said.

The DoWA explained her interest in seminars for midwives so they will be prepared to properly examine and treat their patients.

Caroline Clarin, U.S. Department of Agriculture and a member of PRT Paktika’s FET, mentioned the possibility of discussing female tailoring and poultry training.

“Our goal has been to provide support to farmers at the district level,” Clarin said. “The one area we have not been able to work in is doing projects with women.”

According to Clarin, the position for a director of women’s affairs had been vacant since April despite Paktika Gov. Moheebullah Samim’s active recruiting efforts.

As plans for additional engagements were arranged, the DoWA once again expressed her excitement for the future of women’s affairs in Paktika.

“I’m very happy to meet with you,” Hushawa said. “I’ve never been able to meet with so many women at once, and I have a plan to bring more women to Paktika.

In closing, U.S. Army Maj. Arnym Pedraza from Cajuas, Puerto Rico, PRT operations officer and FET member, affirmed the teams support for Hushawa and women’s affairs.

“We are here for you,” Pedraza said. “We’re sincerely concerned for the children and females in Paktika.”



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