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PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Officials from the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and Afghan National Security Forces handed out school supplies to children at a newly built school in Paktya Province, Afghanistan, May 29.
The visit was part of an education initiative between the GIRoA, ANSF, and the Paktya Provincial Reconstruction Team intended to increase trust and support between the local population and their government and military leaders.
The initiative, which kicked off in March, consists of opening ceremonies for new schools and the distribution of school supplies, and will continue through June.
Approximately 4,000 backpacks, cases of pens and pencils and small Afghan Flags, all made in Afghanistan and purchased as a way to infuse the local economy, have been distributed.
Additional school supplies and other items such as toys, clothes and athletic equipment, were donated by people and organizations from the United States.
“The level of support we received from families and organizations in the U.S. was phenomenal,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Donna Laulo, of the PRT from Payulap, Wash. “They sent us enough supplies to fill thousands of backpacks, which shows that our level of commitment to this country goes beyond just our service men and women.”
The PRT collected the supplies and put together more than 12,000 backpacks containing basic school supplies, educational coloring books, flags, hand-crank radios and toys.
Mehrabbudin Shfaq, Paktya director of the Department of Education, and his staff coordinated the outreach missions that included visits with the principal of each school, as well as district sub-governors and village elders.
“It is very important for us to improve education in the province, and the children need those supplies,” said Shfaq.
Haji Rasool Mohammad, vice president of the Mami Khail Construction Company, also participated in the project.
Mohammad had recently completed renovations to a school in the Jani Khel District, and volunteered to deliver backpacks to the students to celebrate the school’s completion.
“People are very poor, and they cannot afford to buy notebooks and supplies," said Mohammad, "I'm very proud to deliver this, and I'm very happy to help the kids."
Religious and cultural advisors from the 203rd Thunder Corps, ANA, played a major role in the transportation and distribution of the supplies in the Gardez area.
Local ANA and Afghan Uniform Police units took the lead in distributing the supplies to schools in districts throughout the remainder of the province.
“We didn't put on this uniform just to provide security,” said ANA Sgt. Rohullah Akhund, of Zormat District. “We want to help people and help the children get an education so they can have a better life and have peace.”
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