News: Helping children go back to school
Story by Lt. Benjamin Addison
FARAH, Afghanistan – Members of Provincial Reconstruction Team Farah met with local leaders in Cin Farsi Village to assess school refurbishment progress in Farah province, July 14.
U.S. Army Capt. Brian Woller, a civil affairs officer assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Farah, led the mission to meet with Pusht-e Rod District Governor Ghawsuddin to gain a better understanding of recent progress made toward opening two local schools.
“There were two main goals for the visit,” said Woller. “One was to see the progress, if any, on refurbishment of the schools. The other was to ensure they are making the effort to educate the youth in the community.”
The community has 13 teachers who are currently teaching students from a temporary location until the two school buildings are ready to be used, according to Woller.
“We’re going to continue to follow up and provide assistance,” said Woller. “Not only ensuring the refurbishment gets completed, and that the teachers and students get moved into the facility, but that it’s done in a timely manner and up to standard.”
The PRT’s mission is to support economic development and effective governance at the district, municipal, and provincial level in Farah Province in order to enhance the legitimate exercise of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s authority and its ability to provide basic services to the people of Farah.
“Civil affairs officers act as liaisons and mentors,” said Woller. “We go out and attempt to assist the local populace and the local leaders to provide services to the community. At times, we are able to get small scale projects either to bolster the local economy or to provide basic needs immediately to the people to help them survive. As we progress through the deployment, we transition more to that teaching and mentoring role to help them become self-sufficient and to be able to do these things on their own.”
U.S. Army Maj. Melvin Holland is the Civil Affairs Team leader for PRT Farah. “I’m impressed with Capt. Woller’s performance, being a young civil affairs officer fresh out of school, he has been extremely motivated. He wants to engage the Afghan populace and he wants to do the right thing for the Afghan people,” said Holland. “He’s made it a point to get out there on a regular basis and try to make a difference.”
U.S. Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Michael Nelson, PRT Security Force platoon sergeant, accompanied Woller on the mission. Nelson’s security force team is made up of National Guard Infantryman out of Alaska charged with ensuring the safety of everyone assigned to the PRT. “Every mission is challenging in its own way,” said Nelson. “My team is very good at what they do.”
“The security force assistance allows me the freedom to focus specifically on the meeting or on the inspection,” said Woller. “When we toured the school, I didn’t have to worry about the security aspect of the mission. It really gives you more freedom and a level of comfort in knowing that piece is taken care of for you.”