Mullahs, or Muslim religious leaders throughout Baraki Barak in Logar Province, Afghanistan, gathered at the local District Center to receive Mosque improvement packages, distributed by Soldiers from Task Force Iron Titan, September 16-17.
The Mosque kits included several large rugs, a smaller prayer rug for the Mullah, paint, a new speaker system, and light bulbs. Possibly, the most important part of the kits was solar panels to provide electricity for the Mosque.
Local families also received humanitarian aid packages including blankets, sweaters, rice, peas and other goods. Several humanitarian aid packages were also given to each Mullah to distribute to the neediest families within their local outreach.
â€œWe gave away $85,000 worth of stuff in two days,â€ said Staff Sgt. Dwaine Hood, a forward observer with Able Troop, 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, who helps plan many of the troopâ€™s humanitarian efforts.
Local villagers gathered alongside their Mullahs, ready to help transport the goods. With the hot Afghan sun beating down, everyone gathered in the shade while the paperwork was completed. With the help of an interpreter, Hood went down the list and identified each Mullah. Interpreters made last-minute calls to the few who were running late.
â€œIâ€™m like the middle man,â€ Hood said. â€œI set up a meeting and make sure people are who they say they are. I also make sure the people who need to get stuff get it.â€
Once everyone was identified and accounted for, the Mullahs each stood by their pile of goods. One at a time, the Mullahs brought in trucks and had the villagers from their area assist in loading the goods.
â€œThe reason these packages are so important is because it upgrades the local Mosque, which in turn, shows we care about their religion and lifestyle and are here to help in any way we can,â€ Hood said.
â€œWe gave away the Mosque packages to gain the support and trust of the people and to improve their lives,â€ said Army Cpl. Jonathan Irwin, infantryman, who also serves as Combat Outpost Baraki Barakâ€™s COP Mayor.
Completing the paperwork and loading the trucks took several hours, but the recipients didnâ€™t seem to mind as they each left in jovial spirits signified by their wide smiles.
â€œThey seemed really happy,â€ Irwin said.
The Mosque refurbishment kits were only one of the many projects Able Troop has planned.
â€œWe still have a lot of projects in the works,â€ Hood said. â€œWeâ€™ll be giving out more food, clothing and other goods in the near future.â€
Written by Army Spc. Jaimeâ€™ De Leon
Task Force Spartan Public Affairs