KABUL, Afghanistan – U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry and the Ghazni Provincial Reconstruction Team paid a special visit to the Ghazni City orphanage Dec. 15 to dedicate playground equipment donated by the family and friends of Steven Thomas Stefani of Auburn, Calif.
Other attendees at the dedication were Ghazni Provincial Gov. Musa Khan, Polish Ambassador Maciej Lang, and Polish Brig. Gen. Andrzej Reudowicz, Task Force White Eagle commander.
While working for the U.S. Forest Service in Wells, Nev., Stefani discovered the opportunity to take a nine-month assignment as a U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service advisor, helping the people of Ghazni province develop and implement agricultural projects.
When he found the Ghazni City orphanage had been so torn apart due to conflict that they didn’t have a playground, toys or even soccer balls to play with, he contacted his family and friends back home asking them to contribute to this new project.
As the plan was developing, Stefani’s convoy, returning from another mission, hit a a roadside bomb and the 28-year-old was killed.
His family decided to carry out his vision of a playground for this orphanage. They accepted donations in Stefani’s name to cover the cost of the playground equipment and shipping it to Ghazni province.
Today, Ghazni is still a province with insurgent activity and roadside bombs. Getting the equipment here was a complicated matter plagued with delays, but reconstruction team members got the playground ready for use once it arrived.
The orphanage is a fulltime home to 45 children and hosts a total of 120 children for the school day. It is led by orphanage director, Mir Ameenullah, and staffed with seven teachers and an administrator.