News: Winter Setting in, ISAF Troops Provide Comfort to Afghan Refugees
Story by Staff Sgt. Stacey Haga
KABUL, Afghanistan – Imagine living in a tent made of sheets in the bitter cold of winter - dust covers you and your possessions. You have no job, no home, no comforts, and most of the time, no hope. This is what people living in refugee camps in Afghanistan face every day.
A group of 15 service members from Security Assistance Force Headquarters took the initiative to make a difference and deliver supplies to the Kabul refugee camp Dec. 18.
“I was taken by the sight,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Skip Johnson, a volunteer and commander, Base Support Group at ISAF HQ. “I’ve never seen one in person.”
The group of volunteers visited the refugee camp along with the installation chaplain, U.S. Air Force Maj. Calvin Dixon, to deliver items like blankets, solar lights, clothing, school supplies, food and candy.
“It was a host of items from a host of people,” said Dixon. As part of a continuing effort, churches, schools, family members and individuals from all over send items to the chaplain for distribution to those in need in Kabul.
“This was the first trip in a few months, but our goal is to make them monthly,” said Dixon. This is an ambitious, but reachable, goal since the center currently has enough supplies for the next few monthly deliveries, he said.
Deliveries like this one are often the only way refugees get much-needed items. When looking at the families and children, you realize the benefit and life you can bring them, said Johnson.
At the site, refugee families anxiously waited in three lines for their turn to receive goods from the service members. Many tried to go through the line twice or cut ahead of others, but with the assistance of Afghan volunteers, the process went smoothly.
The supplies ran out quickly, but many of the refugees were seen smiling and shaking hands with the volunteers. There were many thumbs up, high-fives, and children speaking any English they knew to the American servicemen and servicewomen, said Johnson.
“You could see the excitement in everyone’s eyes,” said Dixon. “I hope we had a positive impact today.”
“I’ve only been here a month, and this was one of the best things I’ve ever done,” said Johnson. “It’s probably one of the most enriching hours of my life.”
“We were able to meet some of their needs today,” Johnson added.
The service members returned to the base knowing that while conditions are still rough at the refugee camp, at least the refugees have blankets to help stay warm and lights to illuminate the cold, dark nights. The future trips would also provide more comfort. In a word, it’s progress.