KABUL - Developing the creditability of the Afghan National Police and the Afghan National Army is essential to overall mission success. This success is built not only through training and mentoring, but also by ensuring legitimacy in the eyes of the Afghan people. A way to win this trust is through medical drops and other humanitarian assistance.
1st Battalion, 101st Field Artillery Regiment, Police Mentor Team 4, led by 2nd Lt. John Coyne, Staff Sgt. Dan Bertrand and Staff Sgt. Ryan McLane, linked up with their Afghan Police counterparts in the Estalef police district to drop more than $20,000 worth of much needed medical supplies to two local clinics, August 1, 2010
“Seeing the children emulate the U.S. soldiers and their policemen made me hopeful for their future,” Bertrand said. “The police are essential to the development of this country and not just for fighting, but for building the community as a whole.”
The team visited the central medical clinic in Estalef, one that provides care for more than 4,000 people a month. Places like this form lynchpins of the team’s community policing efforts. Health care providers and a slew of interested Afghan children surrounded PMT 4 and the Afghan National Police as they handed supplies to local civilian lifesavers.
“This is what we need to start doing more”, said Estalef Police Chief Lt. Col. Mohammad Hasam. “Opportunities like this show the people that the police want to be as involved in the community as possible.”
Brockton resident Pfc. Douglas Castro, the team’s medic, stood watch as the medication was unloaded, ensuring the appropriate supplies made their way to the right hands. Already a local celebrity of sorts for rendering care to area civilians and police, Castro was instrumental as the team’s medical expert, ensuring that all medications were stored and inventoried correctly.
“Donating medical supplies are one of the best ways we can help the people of Afghanistan,” said Castro. “There was a lot of positive feedback from the villagers, as they came down to see what we were doing, It felt pretty good to provide them the supplies they needed.”
As the supplies were being distributed, Spc. Jared Lucas of East Freetown, said “This is one of the best things we’ve done since we’ve been here.” Westfield’s Staff Sgt. Armand Hunter pulled security from their HMMWV turrets in the heavily wooded area overlooking the famed mountains hiding Estalef.
The veterinarian clinic, adjacent to the medical clinic, sees an average of 60-80 local farm animals per month. Both clinics received much needed aid to help fulfill their mission of providing care to families living in this outlying district.
Gan Mohammad, the head nurse of the Estalef medical clinic said the supplies he received will help support basic medical care for three months. Antibiotics, IV fluid and pediatric milk are essential for a clinic that serves as a first stop for patients that can’t make the 60 kilometer trip to Kabul.
“This is the perfect season for these medications,” said Mohammad.
“We are very busy. The people appreciate it,” said Mir Matiullah, village elder of Go Araw village. “It is most needed. The supplies will be used and we will make sure it is distributed fairly to everyone who needs it.”
Estalef is known as a vacation spot for Kabul residents trying to escape the big city or score some of the area’s famous pottery, but locally, the district is made mostly of farmers who rely on the earth and their animals to survive.
Dr. Abdul Rasol, the lead veterinarian, was assigned to this area to try and improve animal care and by proxy, the local food supply.
Having served in this capacity in four other Afghan provinces, Abdull Rasol said while stacking multi-vitamins intended for cows, “This is all useful to us” he said. “Antibiotics, vaccines, parasite medication, these are important medications for the work we do here.”