KABUL, Afghanistan – Fifteen volunteers from U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and the Medical Embedded Training Team at the New Kabul Compound delivered two pickup trucks worth of donated school supplies, toys and soccer balls for students at the Bibi Mahrow School Wednesday morning, Oct. 12.
The delivery was one in a series coordinated largely by the METT, which helps teach staff at Afghanistan's National Military Hospital.
The organization has distributed donated supplies, solicited through anysailor.com, to orphans, patients and schoolchildren throughout Kabul during the past several months. Wednesday’s donations were supplemented by items that other USFOR-A departments had accumulated through their own, often individual, efforts to have friends and relatives send materials over for use in Afghanistan.
“We’re just actually the middlemen,” said Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Cecile Perez-Collantes, a METT lab technician who coordinated Wednesday’s event. “Most of the people we have to thank are the donors back home.”
She said her unit has used anysailor.com – one of a family of websites serving each military service – throughout its deployment to gather donations for Afghans.
“The reward is beyond words,” she said. “I just can’t explain it.”
The unit arrived late last year and is due to leave during the winter. Perez-Collantes said she hoped another unit would continue to help local residents after her team leaves.
“Just the smiles on their faces is the reward,” Perez-Collantes said. “It makes me happy, doing this."
Navy Lt. Charles Le, construction manager for Regional Command North and a volunteer, echoed the sentiment.
“I like to go out in town and get in touch with the people and see a more immediate impact on the life of the people,” he said. “Normally what I do is construction, so this is a rare opportunity to do that.”
He called helping young school children particularly rewarding and fun, given their exuberance.
Other participating agencies included USFOR-A’s civil affairs and training directorates, members of its command group and force protection elements, and Arcent, a liaison command between U.S. Army headquarters and Central Command, which oversees operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and other area nations.