News: School starts in Afghanistan, Task Force Hydra lends a hand
Story by Capt. Jackie Wren
KABUL, Afghanistan - When Americans think of spring they think of rain, flowers returning from months of hibernation and children getting antsy with the thrill of upcoming summer. In Afghanistan a different excitement stirs in the month of March, and that is of children welcoming the start of the school year.
648th, Task Force Hydra, a Georgia Army National Guard unit form Columbus, is active throughout Kabul as the Kabul Base Cluster Command working with Kabul’s political leaders, religious leaders and police to provide humanitarian assistance and funding for projects that both provide better quality of life and employ local Afghan workers. This month the advancement of education was the focus of one of seven current projects that the team is overseeing.
On the first Sunday of classes, the TF Hydra civil affairs team, led by Lt. Col. Michael O. Hulsey along with the Task Force Hydra Commander, Col. Andy L. Hall, set out for a school with back-to-school gifts for the children.
Darulaman, a community within Kabul, is home to a school that is responsible for educating over 3,000 students grades one through 12. This school is the site of one of the seven current humanitarian projects that Task Force Hydra is currently overseeing. This particular project is to build a privacy wall for the school that will provide protection for girls attending the school.
“In Afghanistan, boundary walls equal security and privacy, which afford a conducive learning environment for this community’s youth” said Hulsey about the project that broke ground this week and is scheduled to be complete within 45 days.
Along with checking in on the progress of the privacy wall, the teams brought over 400 bags of school supplies collected by Operation Outreach, a soldier run humanitarian organization, for the school’s head master to share with the students.
Hall had an opportunity to speak with children in the classrooms and shared with them that his wife teaches school back home and that he will consider them all friends after that day.
When speaking to the classes of female students, he introduced Lt. Col. Robyn Blader, a member of Task Force Hydra’s staff judge advocate team. Blader shared with the girls that she is a lawyer and how important education has been in her life.
An eighth grade female student named Gulnaz who spoke English, shared with Blader that she wants to go on to college and study literature. She also said that it was good to have the soldiers there to visit them.
“This was one of the best missions I’ve been on,” said Blader. “These kids are learning 15 different subjects in a bare classroom with only a black board and can only attend three hours a day. It’s nice to be able to help them.”
As the team wrapped up the visit, the school head master shared his gratitude with Hall and Hulsey.
“Very near and dear to our heart is the education of children,” said Hall before departing. “I know you share the same thoughts and that creates an educational bond for us.”