Education a priority for Afghan villagers
Story by: G.A. Volb - Kabul Military Training Center Public Affairs Office
Dated: Wed, May 28, 2008
New York Army National Guard Col. Mark Heffner, center, speaks with Khvajeh Ghar Village elder Khan Mohamed, far left, about possible assistance the civil affairs team out of Camp Alamo and the Training Assistance Group can offer. At right, an Afghan interpreter helps bridge the language barrier between the two. Heffner is the TAG commander. (Photo courtesy MPRI/G. A. Volb)
KHVAJEH GHAR, Afghanistan -- “A water well, a school and a medical clinic,” was the Malik’s response when asked by the Army civil affairs team from Camp Alamo what the village needed most during their visit here May 24.
As village Malik, or elder, Khan Mohamed served as spokesman for the town of Khvajeh Ghar located some eight miles northeast of Camp Alamo -- home to the Kabul Military Training Center and the civil affairs squad. Through an interpreter, Mohamed stressed the need for the school because there were some 750 boys and girls living in his town and in the outlining area. The need for access to water was obvious given the arid, dusty region in which his village sat. And the medical clinic, well, that goes without saying.
All are worthy causes according to Army Lt. Col. John Boyle, TAG civil affairs officer. But after considering the makeup of the village, they determined the well and school house should top the list.
New York National Guardsmen Col Mark Hefner, the commander of the Transition Assistance Group, and Sgt. 1st Class Brian Coons, were also part of the civil affairs mission to this Afghan village.
“We want to help create an environment fostering literacy too,” said Boyle; “one that provides the youth of his and other villages with the tools to give back to their communities by developing as individuals for the betterment of Afghanistan.”
A graduate of Mercy College with a B.S. in Business Administration from Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., Boyle knows all too well the benefits of having a good education. Now he’s hoping to open similar doors for Afghanistan’s youth.
“Once funding is approved, we’ll begin the process of supplying the village with a finished, fully functioning school house and well,” said Boyle, a native of Modena, N.Y.
Such projects are nominated by the commander’s emergency response program manager who provides higher headquarters with a statement of work and justification. If approved, a search for the best qualified contractor at the best price is sought and selected.
“After being awarded,” according to Boyle, “CERP managers monitor progress of the work -- to ensure quality and quantity of the work meets contractual requirements.”
With any luck, said Boyle, the village of Khvajeh Ghar and Malik Mohamed will welcome their new school house and well sometime in October.