PHARMAKAN, Afghanistan - International Security Assistance Force's (ISAF) Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Herat recently inaugurated a school in Pharmakan village of Shindand district in southern Herat province.
The $309,104 school will accommodate 1,000 male students and contains desks, chairs, fans and laundry facilities. Previously, the students studied outside and in tents where they encountered classroom overcrowding and the threat of disease.
Col. Pietro Luigi, PRT Herat commander, Vincenzo Carini, Civil-Military Cooperation director, Khodadad Arfani, governor of Shindand, elders, students and local officials attended the ceremony.
The traditional mud homes with brown domes contrasted with the school's modern golden dome shining in the sun.
One student, Mohammad Dawood, said the inauguration of the school is a dream coming true for him.
Local officials were happy Governor Arfani and Colonel Monteduro visited the village for the first time. The villagers promised to keep the school special so it can help educate the students.
Governor Arfani said local people started to take steps to develop with the help of their Italian friends. They are working to make the area safe and hope to attract tourists to the district known for its hospitality and green landscape.
The governor also praised the PRT. "You supported us," Governor Arfani said. "We will train useful members of society not in tents but in modern classrooms."
During the inauguration Colonel Monteduro talked about the importance of education. "Children are the future of this village. A good school can help students to develop faster," he said.
Pharmakan village consists of far-flung homes which made it difficult for students to attend school. In the past small children became lonely being so far from home. Older students did not usually attend because they were busy shepherding animals, working on farms and caring for their younger siblings. Most of the students are shepherds and spend half a day looking after their flock before studying.
An interesting part of the inauguration was an art exhibition by students at Pharmakan school and Mansoni School in Rome. A comparison of the artwork showed the Afghan and Italian students share a talent for art.
Before seeing the Mansoni drawings the Afghan children did not think their artistic talent compared with their Italian schoolmates. At the exhibition the Afghan student artists became very hopeful in their talent. It motivated them to study harder.
"I want to send the message that we are talented," said Hedayat, a student artist. "And knowing our talents will help us to develop Afghanistan."
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