Local Delta Sigma Theta sorority member Jean Loomis was with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this last week when they dropped off school supplies, toys and treats during Operation Backpack Drop.
"The opportunity to experience the Afghan culture and to show a different view of Americans to young children was a great way to spend Mother's Day," said Loomis, an administrative assistant here deployed from the Portland District Corps of Engineers. "I hope that by showing the young people we are concerned about their well being we made a lasting impact. I can't think of a better way to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people than to help the children. The smiles and thanks we received were great Mother's Day gifts."
Aged 5 to 18, the children are all considered orphans because their parents are either dead or disabled.
Each of the 160 students that attend the all-boys Ostad Khalil Ullah Khalili Orphans Education Center located in Kabul received a new backpack filled with pens, paper, pencils, notebooks, crayons, erasers, rulers, sharpeners, toys, a puzzle and candy delivered by members of the Afghanistan Engineer District-North.
Many of the donations came from AED-N member's home districts, like Sharon Schwab from Waynesville, Ohio who is a senior electrical engineer technician over special projects here with the Quality Assurance Branch and deployed from the Huntington, W. Va District Corps of Engineers.
"I sent out emails and posted on Facebook that we were looking for puzzle donations," said Schwab.
The result was a puzzle drive from her home district that yielded more than 80 puzzles. Additionally, Schwab's family and friends also donated puzzles bringing the total number of puzzles to more than 160, enough for each student to receive their own.
The Ostad Khalil Ullah Khalili Orphans Education Center was built in 2009 and is funded by the Afghan government. The students take classes in science, computers, reading and arithmetic. But, according to the orphan education center Director, Naqib Jami, finding qualified teachers in Afghanistan is very difficult. "Our teachers only make about [the equivalent] $80 American in salary," said Jami. "So, it is very hard to find people that have the skills to teach science courses for so little money."