KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The future of Afghanistan is its children, and the Kunar provincial government and Kunar Provincial Reconstruction Team are working together to build that future by delivering new schools.
On a trip through the southern part of the province Dec. 15, PRT engineers did construction quality checks on four new schools in Donai, Bahrabat, Arazi and Zagrano that will provide a safe, sanitary learning environment when completed next summer.
The school projects in each of the villages represent an economic boost and an investment in Afghanistan’s future. One person who knows that well is Hanawadah, a security night watchman at the Arazi site, whose three children attend the school.
“I’m from Donai village and I have three kids in the school,” Hanawadah said. “This is a good project, and we need this school soon.”
According to U.S. Navy Builder Chief Petty Officer David Zahm, PRT engineer, the projects are going well with only minor issues. One of the reasons for the quality assurance and quality checks is providing guidance to the local workers.
“They’ve improved dramatically since we’ve been able to go out there to the sites and give them mentoring,” Zahm said. “I’ve talked with the foremen and laborers at the sites and tell them why they have to do things to our standards, and they’ve been very receptive to that.”
Zahm said because the PRT has a high standard for quality it’s important to teach the laborers the differences in mixing concrete and building structures.
“Some of the issues with material quality are because they don’t understand the difference and can’t see it, so many times they go with what is easier to do,” Zahm said. “That is why we explain strength and durability to them, and hold them to standards.”
Zahm said the projects were all started about a month ago, and the difference in the projects’ progress is like night and day since the PRT started making regular trips to the sites.
“When they started they just didn’t know some things and would wing it,” he said. “Now, they have a process and are applying the right techniques. This is one of the school bundles that has improved since we’ve started coming regularly to check on them.”
Zahm said the contractor adheres to the requirement to hire local villagers for the projects, which brings economic improvements to the region.
“They are hiring local labor for the projects,” he said. “All the unskilled labor is from the local villages and about half of the skilled labor is from the area.”
One such person who is in high demand is Karibullah, a skilled worker who lives in the area. He was hired for both the school construction project in Bahrabat, as well as work on a road project in the area. He takes much pride in the projects and understands the importance of both.
“With my hands, I’ve done a lot of reconstruction in different places and different projects,” Karibullah said. “Afghans see the changes, but we hope you will continue to help us for a prosperous Afghanistan.”
He said the school is important for the future of the country, and for his nine children.
“I’m happy to build this school. We have a Pashtu saying, ‘with one hand you cannot clap,’” Karibullah said. “We are really tired of fighting and we don’t want our kids in the dark anymore. We want a brighter future for our kids, our families and our people.”
Karibullah explained that he wanted his youngest son to grow up and get an education.
“I don’t want him to become a sheppard. It would be good for him to get an education,” he said. “He can be a good man and work for the future of his country with an education.”
The schools were bundled under one contract for approximately $1 million and awarded to the Takar Construction Company.
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