News: Sharing tradition
FARAH, Afghanistan - Members of Provincial Reconstruction Team Farah hosted local government officials for an iftar dinner here at Forward Operating Base Farah Thursday.
U.S. Navy Cmdr. Thomas Sheppard, commanding officer of Provincial Reconstruction Team Farah, and Nancy Abella, U.S. State Department representative, welcomed Dr. Mohammed Akram Khpalwak, provincial governor of Farah, as well as members of the Provincial Council, the Director of Religious Affairs, and the Chief Justice to Forward Operating Base Farah to share an iftar dinner in honor of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Distinguished guests also included representatives of the Independent Directorate of Local Governance and Provincial Peace Council.
“This is the most important emotional and spiritual time of year for them, and for us to be able to participate in that, and show them that we honor it, I thought was just a great opportunity,” said Abella. “I really wanted to express to them that we were honoring their holiday. We didn’t have any other agenda except to be with them on their holiday, serve them food on their holiday, and honor this time of year that is so important for them and I think that they felt that. They prayed when it was prayer time and then they ate with us and I was very touched to participate.”
“We wanted to participate to gain a better understanding of Afghan culture,” said Sheppard. “This was a great occasion to experience a significant part of their religion and enjoy the company of friends in an environment free of the pressures of work.”
Traditional food was prepared by Afghan cooks, according to Abella. The menu included a whole goat along with chicken, rice, naan bread, vegetables, and apples.
U.S Army Capt Otty Medina of Special Operations Task Force West coordinated the event. “This is an opportunity for us as a coalition to come together and demonstrate to our Afghan partners that we appreciate the service they give to their country and to demonstrate that we want to establish a better cultural understanding, because if we have a more nuanced cultural understanding, we essentially become a more cohesive team,” said Medina.
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.
“They all seemed really pleased to come,” said Abella. “The turnout was excellent. We had members of the provincial council, the governor, his staff, interns from the provincial council who often don’t get to participate in events with high ranking officials like this were there, and representatives from reintegration and justice areas. Our most important guest was Mullah Mawlawee Ruhanni Sab, the head of religious affairs. He always has a positive message about cooperation with international partners and I think this is another good example for him, when he’s talking with other mullahs, to show that we really do have a respectful relationship with Afghans.”
Date Posted:07.28.2012 09:47
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