Extreme Make Over: Afghan Edition
What would it be like to go without computers, MP3 players and video games systems? How about upping the antÃ© and adding air conditioning and light bulbs to the “off-limits list?” To most Americans, the thought of not having such modern day luxuries could be considered “cruel and unusual” punishment.
However, for Afghans living in the rural, rugged mountainous areas, such modern amenities are found few and far between.
Soldiers of Able Troop, 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, based out of Fort Drum, N.Y., and their Afghan National Army partners are not standing idly by as many Afghans in the Baraki-Barak District of Logar province do without some “modern day essentials.” They are providing some remote villages with electrical power generators in a project affectionately known as “Extreme Make Over: Afghan Edition.” The intent is to help increase the quality of life for the Afghans–one small village at a time.
Recently, they visited the villages of Ahmadak and Bakhshabad to offer the local Shuras the generators and to arrange a day for pick up at Joint Combat Outpost Baraki-Barak.
“We came out here to show the Afghan people that their government and the U.S. are trying to make their lives better,” said 1st Lt. Sean Mahard, platoon leader, 2nd Platoon, Troop. A, 3-71 Cav. “We want to empower them to see the good we are doing,” the Rocky Hill, Conn., native continued, “and that we are here to help.”
The day began as any normal patrol with Soldiers readying their gear, checking their vehicles and taking care of various other tasks. But, unlike normal patrols, they weren’t looking for insurgents. The Soldiers were looking for someone to talk to about the generators.
As the convoy rolled into each village–first Bakhshabad, then Ahmadak, the locals were stand-offish; few wanted to speak to the Soldiers or the accompanying ANA. However, their demeanor quickly changed.
“They were skeptical at first, but they warmed up to us,” said Spc. Jacob Beynon, a medic with 2nd Platoon. “They really liked the idea of having light at night.”
The villagers became very eager to get the generators as they spoke with the Soldiers.
“They were excited and grateful,” said Mahard. “A Bakhshabad elder said, ‘We have 100 families without power’ and the generators we are providing will give these families electricity.”
As the mission wound down and the Soldiers began to leave Ahmadak, Beynon reflected on the mission.
“It is always good to do missions like this,” the Spring, Texas, native said, “it gives you a ‘warm and fuzzy’ feeling.”
Mahard happy about how the mission turned out echoed Beynon’s sentiment.
“It is an honor to be part of a military that wants to help others,” said Mahard. “I’ll be proud to tell my friends and family about this when I go home.”
Prior to leaving at the end of the day, arrangements for the local villagers to pick-up the generators were made, and most came away feeling a little more human.
Story by Spc. Derek L. Kuhn
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This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009 at 12:00 pm and is filed under War on Terror, Afghanistan, War on Terror, Afghanistan, Rebuilding, Tenth Mountain Division, War on Terror. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.