KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Leaders from the Khowst provincial government and 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke, met with elders in Spera, Khowst province, Afghanistan, to discuss issues in the village May 17.<br /> <br /> U.S. Army Col. Chris Toner, commander of 3rd BCT, 1st Inf. Div., TF Duke, and a native of Topeka, Kan., and Khowst Provincial Gov. Abdul Jabbar Naeemi listened as residents of Spera raised awareness on problems they face in their everyday lives.<br /> <br /> Spera, located close to the Pakistan border, is in a remote and mountainous area of Afghanistan.<br /> <br /> “These shuras bring the provincial government closer to its people,” said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Ken Scholz, a member of the Khowst Provincial Reconstruction Team. “It’s vital that they understand their needs can be filled by the legitimate government of Afghanistan.”<br /> <br /> Due to its remoteness, the area has difficulty getting good medical care, education and construction, one of the elders said.<br /> <br /> They have very little good drinking water and need pipes for plumbing, he said. <br /> <br /> A recent bridge over a wadi drew praise from participants and they asked for more projects to increase education and construction in the area.<br /> <br /> “Every time I come, you ask for a clinic, a road or a school,” said Naeemi. “This is good because people who want peace want projects.”<br /> <br /> The visit gave Naeemi and other officials an opportunity to monitor and assess the needs of the district, Naeemi said.<br /> <br /> “People work to bring stability and prosperity to the country,” Naeemi said. “Do whatever needs to be done for a bright future.”<br /> <br /> Changes have already occurred in the district, he pointed out. There have been 919 new students recruited to go to school. <br /> <br /> “You’ve taken light into 919 houses,” Naeemi said. “In the future they will be doctors and engineers.”<br /> <br /> Among those who spoke was Afghan National Police Chief Gulnabi who urged people to fight rumors and propaganda spread by their enemy.<br /> <br /> “It is our job to protect our country,” Gulnabi said.