KHOST PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Spc. Frank Combs, from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., 330th Military Police Company, Police Combined Action Team, buys a drink from a convenience store in the Read more
PANJSHIR PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN – Local community leaders and hundreds of spectators turned out for a new school dedication in the town of Pawat, June 2. They celebrated the completion of Read more
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Soldiers of the B Battery, 3rd Battalion, 321st Field Artillery Regiment, 18th Fires Brigade (Airborne), 82nd Airborne Division shoot multiple rounds to register their target in Read more
BAMYAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - The Maori people of New Zealand have a saying: “he tangata, he tangata, he tangata,” or, literally “the people, the people, the people.” In Bamyan, Afghanistan, New Zealand Army Maj. Kevin P. Brophy can’t keep the phrase out of his mind.
The Padre of the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team has a natural need to help people, as is expected of all chaplains. A resident of Taranaki, New Zealand, Brophy’s main job is to facilitate the emotional and spiritual needs of the coalition forces at Kiwi Base, located in the capital district of the province.
When not providing services for Kiwi, American or Singaporean Soldiers, Brophy has one major concern on his plate: a small orphanage, which he took under his wing with the help of Coalition Forces.
“It’s not like our arms are pulled here,” said Brophy, “But, one look at the kids, and it becomes impossible to look the other way.”
Brophy made the Samir Samad orphanage, which services around 65 displaced kids, his pet project while he completes his six-month tour of duty here. He and the NZPRT visited the orphanage on several occasions to bring the orphans much needed supplies. In this most recent visit, the Kiwis, with the help of the American Embedded Training Team brought bunk beds, clothing and toys to the kids.
When the Kiwis came to the school, driving up-armored SUVs, the kids dropped everything they were doing and ran out to greet them. Most were in school, which brought a scolding from the teachers. What mattered more than school to the orphans were the potential surprises the NZPRT was bringing today.
The older children assisted the Kiwis who unloaded the pieces needed to construct the beds. The younger kids ran around the Soldiers involved with other tasks; some Soldiers being pulled by small hands to various parts of the orphanage. One child excitedly pointed at his home country on a map, then pointed to New Zealand, showing where he was, and where his help had come from.
With the help of the older kids, the Kiwis and the Americans built only one bunk-bed outside the orphanage. This was a classic example of the ‘give a man a fish, and he will have food for a day. But teach a man to fish, and he will have food forever’ doctrine that Brophy likes to use during his work in Bamyan. The orphanage learned how to build their own beds, allowing for future repairs and construction without the help of Coalition Forces.
With one child clinging to the Padre with tears in his eyes, begging the man not to go, the NZPRT and the American ETT waved good-bye to the children. Their job was done this day. But this will not be the last time the Kiwis and U.S. Forces will grace the orphanage with their presence. A major kitchen-remodeling project is in the works, and an exposed wire burial project is in the near future.
The Padre put it best when he said that it isn’t the missions or patrols that one goes on that he remembers the most. It’s the people, the people, the people.
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