FARAH CITY, Afghanistan (NNS) -- Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Farah met with the local Director of Telecommunications, Jamalludin Pachakhil May 1, to deliver computers provided by members of the Lions Club in New York City.
One of the PRT's primary objectives is to help build local capacity and to connect local Afghans to resources in order to help provide education and job opportunities to build a stable future for Farahis.
Having built strong relationships with the key leadership in the province, the team has worked hand-in-hand with them to enable Afghan initiatives that need support.
Pachakhil's primary job as the province's telecommunications director is to work with the ministry of telecommunications and large telecommunications companies in Afghanistan to provide service to people in Farah. He also works on radio and television frequency management and oversees the operation of a small, local post office within his compound.
In addition to these services, Pachakhil's compound is the site of computer training for government service employees and aspiring youth who are looking to better their prospects for future jobs and education opportunities. Students are trained on basic Microsoft Office programs such as MS Word and MS Excel during their 6 month course, and receive a certificate upon completion of their training.
Pachakhil said that over 500 students have completed the course and are now proficient in basic computer skills that will help them get jobs with local government and businesses, and help students preparing to complete high school and enter university level classes.
However, a high number of students in classes coupled with limited resources for new computers, the computer learning center under Pachakhil's oversight struggles to find additional resources to help continue valuable, free training for Farahi students.
"Many of our computers broke down in the past few months, and we haven't had the money in our budget to fix them. We appreciate the effort the PRT has put in to find these computers to help us continue educating our young people and civil service workers," said Pachakhil.
Unfortunately, strict restrictions on the ability to transfer used government computers, or to purchase them directly for the director's classroom, prevented the PRT from being able to directly enable this ongoing Afghan initiative.
But, that wasn't enough to stop the PRT from finding a way to support this program. The team tried to contact institutions of higher learning in the United States in order to help, but weren't able to find a university that could support the effort. In stepped members of Lions Club International from New York City to help.
Lions Club International is the world's largest service organization. The club was founded in 1917 by Melvin Jones, a business leader in Chicago, who rallied fellow businessmen to reach beyond business issues and address the betterment of their communities around the world. Currently there are 46,000 clubs and 1.35 million members that all carry out the Lions Club International mission to empower volunteers to serve their communities, meet humanitarian needs, encourage peace and promote international understanding.
Past District Governor, Robert M. Libin, who was one of three key members of the Lions Club that helped procure and deliver the computers to Farah, talked about how this project fit into the club's calling.
"As Lions, our motto is "We Serve". It doesn't matter where in the world there is a need, as Lions, we do our best to step up and find a way to help. This was an opportunity for the Lions to help out, and we try never to let someone in need down. Being a Lion means you are part of something so much bigger than just yourself. You are part of the largest service organization. Your personal efforts have so much of a greater impact on those all over the world," said Libin.
Lt. Mike Quaglino, the PRT's operations officer, delivered the computers on behalf of the PRT.
"It's exciting to see the hard work and energy that people both in and out of uniform have put into helping us succeed in our mission here in Farah," said Quaglino. "We're very thankful for the support that the members of the Lions Club provided, and know that these computers will have a long-term impact in Farah."
Cmdr. Louis McCray, commanding officer of the PRT is a proponent of the capacity building efforts that the PRT is taking on.
"The big win here is that we're building capacity and connecting Farahis to a viable resource that will endure past the 2014 security transition," said McCray. "One of the challenges I gave the team at the beginning of deployment was to build capacity and to link our Afghan counterparts to enduring resources - this does just that. Our team has done a great job of finding unique ways to use existing resources to train local hospital staff, journalists, entrepreneurs and the like."
In addition to the computers for the computer training center at the telecommunications office in Farah City, the PRT is also working with the Lions Club to procure computers that will be delivered to the local justice sector following a violent terrorist attack in Farah City, Apr. 3, that killed 46 civilians and government workers at the Farah City court and prosecutorial compound. During the attack, the terrorists also set fire to and damaged office equipment and computers that are needed for the day to day operation of the justice sector.
PRT Farah's mission is to train, advise, and assist Afghan government leaders at the municipal, district, and provincial levels in Farah province, Afghanistan. Their civil-military team is comprised of members of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
For more information about the PRT follow their page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PRTFRH .
For more news from Provincial Reconstruction Team-Farah, visit www.navy.mil/local/prtf/ .