An Australian legacy for children in Kandahar
19 October 2015
Children at an Afghan school in Kandahar are enjoying improved surroundings and facilities thanks in part to the generosity of Australian troops.
The Australian Defence Force personnel gifted sports equipment, clothing and supplies to the Sayed Pacha School, located on the outskirts of Kandahar Air Field, which was home to the Australia-led 205th Corps Advisory Team (205 CAT) in Camp Baker.
About 1,500 students attend the school, ranging from ages five through to 18, and over two thirds of students are female.
The items were delivered by Australian members of 205 CAT supported by its Force Protection Element on the eve of their departure from southern Afghanistan.
205 CAT Operations Advisor Lieutenant Colonel Glenn Mackenzie said he first took notice of the school during a transit from Kandahar Air Field to the Afghan Army's nearby Camp Hero as part of daily advising to the Afghan National Army's 2nd Mobile Strike Force.
"The school looked very much run down," he said.
"I asked the Strike Force unit commander, Brigadier General Emmam Nazzar, to arrange a meeting with the School Principal so I could offer 205 CAT's assistance.
"I also viewed the meeting as an opportunity to get the Afghan soldiers in the 205th Corps involved in a community project."
As a result of this meeting ADF and Afghan National Army troops have visited the school more than half a dozen times in the past year.
Projects included the planting of trees, the repair of fencing and playground equipment, and the delivery of second hand furniture.
Additionally, a U.S.$200,000 funded ongoing maintenance and repair package for the school was organised by 205 CAT.
Lieutenant Colonel Mackenzie said the relationship also provided the opportunity to introduce female personnel from Camp Baker to the Afghan female students.
"The aim was to show the students that women can be successful and highly valued in their respective country's Defence Forces and contribute in non-traditional ways to their society," he said.
The projects initiated positive discussion amongst Afghan National Army personnel, many of whom have children who attend the school, and increased community awareness and respect for their own military and its capacity to contribute in community development.
School Principal, Mr Mohammad Eissa Khankhil said the Australian efforts will be an important part of the school's history.
"The Australian name will be in this school's history forever, because they were the ones who gave life to this school," he said.
205 CAT ended its mission in Kandahar on October1st, 2015, after seven successful rotations of Australian troops since 2010.
Lieutenant Colonel Mackenzie said 205 CAT will leave an enduring legacy.
"As we depart southern Afghanistan, our legacy will not only be an improved 205th Corps," he said.
"It will also include a small contribution to the education of the children in the region and the cementing of an ongoing friendship between our two nations."
Six Australian personnel will remain embedded in the NATO Resolute Support, Train Advise Assist Command – South (TAAC-S) in Kandahar and will continue to provide assistance to 205th Corps until the end of the TAAC-S mission.