Afghanistan: 'Tankies' Support Education in Helmand Province
"We've had reports that the roof of the school has caved in," said MSST officer Maj. Chris Willett. "Winter is coming and the students are very cold at night. The school leaders have asked us for direct help - so we're taking up blankets and a royal engineer who will assess the damage to the roof."
The school is one of the Afghan government's approved religious schools. It and its staff are authorized to teach Islam and train students in accordance with government guidelines.
"We're not here to set up schools at random - everything is part of the Afghan government's development plan," Willett said.
The school is built in a compound which contains one large building with classrooms and five smaller ones which are further classrooms and dormitories. Two of the buildings have not been finished and a third has lost much of its roof.
While the MSST and the engineer discussed the school's needs with the teachers, the regiment spread out to provide security. Those not actively providing security made time to talk to the children about their work and what had brought them to the school.
"The kids all come up to you - they just want to know who we are and get to know us. The language is a difficulty but it's nice to shake their hands and try to ask how they're doing," said Lance Cpl. David Murphy.
Having completed his survey of the school, Willett is confident the necessary repairs can be made.
"I'm confident that together, we, ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) and the Afghan government, can fund and conduct the repair of the roof. I'm also interested in looking at how we can work together on other projects to improve this center."