PANJSHIR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Hundreds of people from the Pawat district area in Panjshir province, Afghanistan, gathered into the hallways of a new school to witness its opening ceremony, June 2nd.
Many speakers, including the Panjshir Deputy Gov. Abdul Rahman Kabiri, came to praise the work of the Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction team and to thank them for their latest efforts to advance education in Panjshir.
The school’s opening signifies a year-long effort by two different PRT’s to give the town of Pawat a place for both boys and girls to complete their secondary education.
“We are here to dedicate a new school that has been under construction for a while now,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Curtis Velasquez, Panjshir PRT commander. “Anytime we dedicate a new school, it is a great accomplishment for Panjshir and Afghanistan.”
The PRT realized long ago that in order to bring a future to this province, they needed to start by helping Afghans provide a good education for their children.
“All the young men and women have the opportunity to better themselves,” said Velasquez. “They can be optimistic about their future in a land where past generations saw nothing but war and tragedy.”
Even as the completion of the school is celebrated in Parwat, Velasquez, an Abilene, Kan., native, looks forward to future projects in the province.
“We have two other schools in the province that will be finished in the next month and two more that will be completed by the end of the summer,” Velasquez said. “We have the capacity to build more, but we work with the provincial government to assure they have the capacity to staff them.”
It can be a long process from start to finish getting a school running, but one that can be very fulfilling and beneficial for the province, he said.
The next step in educating the population of Panjshir is the Jhenj communication center, where people can go to use any educational asset the Internet has to offer.
“The communication center opens the opportunity to bring a different type of educational progress to the province,” Velasquez said. “They will have the ability to study on their own and will be able to connect to the Internet and open up new horizons by connecting to the world.”
During the dedication, some concerns were raised about future projects in the province. Seeing the opportunity to listen to the concerns of the town’s officials, the PRT attended a typical Afghan lunch where they talked over the concerns for the future.
“We came for a dedication and it evolved into a constructive talk on the future, and what we can do to better plan and complete projects, Velasquez said. “It was a great way for us to learn how to facilitate better relations in the future.”
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