POSTED: Friday, April 12, 2013 - 4:38pm
UPDATED: Friday, April 12, 2013 - 4:41pm
FORWARD OPERATING BASE PASAB, Afghanistan (KTSM) — What happens when you have a team of educators who deploy to a country that has a 17 percent literacy rate? The educators set out to change those numbers.
The Kentucky Agri-business Development Team, a National Guard unit, deployed to Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, participated in Operation Love Thy Neighbor, at FOB Pasab, March 17.
Lt. Col. Dallas Kratzer, the Kentucky ADT deputy commander, worked in conjunction with the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division’s chaplain to provide clothes and school supplies to the Afghan National Army through the Afghan Religious and Cultural Affairs, who in turn distribute the supplies to local villages.
Lt. Col. Abdul Ghani, the chief of RCA, 3rd Brigade, 205th Corps, ANA, appreciated the donations from the Soldiers.
One of the biggest things for Afghanistan is now, with the United States’ help, the ANA has accomplished a lot, said Ghani. They have also progressed a lot in the education aspect as far as teaching soldiers and helping the villages and locals.
“This is truly an Afghan to Afghan thing,” said Kratzer. “All we’re doing is facilitating the materials. We’re equipping them with school supplies so their kids have an interest in being taught, learning and improving what they have.”
The supplies, which have all been donated, are set to foster a more positive relationship with the local Afghan citizens and the ANA, said Kratzer.
Sgt. Eric Schenck, 1st Bde., 1st AD chaplain’s assistant, works closely with the Afghan RCA teams. Schenck helps receive, inspect, store and deliver the donations to the ANA. Schenck also coordinated with the ADT, who immediately jumped on board.
“This is a win-win for all,” said Schenck. “The fact that it is the ANA giving the items fosters positive feelings and will help build supportive sentiments.”
“It feels good to directly improve the living conditions here in Afghanistan,” said Schenck. “It hurts to see so many people living in poverty. I want to help somehow and this is a great way to do some good while I’m deployed.”
Kratzer concluded by emphasizing that this project was to build relationships, not just between Americans and Afghans, but also with the ANA and locals.
“In everything that we do, we want to build sustainability to help foster something that will continue on,” said Kratzer. “It’s not about giveaways. It’s about relationships.”