Afghan Scouts Join Military for First Aid, Campfires and Friendship

(KABUL, Afghanistan) Service members assigned to the NATO Resolute Support Mission demonstrate proper first-aid techniques to a group of Afghan Girl Scouts visiting for a day-long program April 13. (NATO released photo by Kerstin Tomiak)
14 Apr 2018

By: U.S. Navy Cmdr. Lesley Lykins, Resolute Support Headquarters Public Affairs

KABUL, Afghanistan -- The sun is shining and there is a faint smell of campfire, but what stands out most walking along the Dupree Garden on the Resolute Support Headquarters is the sound of laughter and the quiet chatter of children.

Some 60 Afghan children participating in the Afghan Scouts Program are visiting the base as part of a monthly cooperative initiative with volunteer service members stationed here.

While no one remembers quite when the partnership was established, Mohammad Jawad Omari, social programs coordinator for PARSA Afghan Scouts Program recalls it was a group of soldiers that were once Boy Scouts themselves that showed initial interest in supporting local troops.

"International volunteers from different countries, especially the U.S., were once Scouts as children,” said Omari.  "They brought that experience with them and when they came to Afghanistan they started helping us in different ways, especially in organizing events inside the Resolute Support camp.”

Both Boy and Girl Scouts in smaller groups made their way from station to station as they participated in the planned activities for the day.

"Today we’ve set up stations to build their own personal first aid kits.  We are also teaching knot tying, and the kids all love making survival bracelets,” said U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Sarah Deal, a lead volunteer from Resolute Support Headquarters and the mother of three Boy Scouts back in the United States. 

"We’ve had the EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) guys come in to teach explosive hazardous awareness training because children get injured each year handling un-exploded ordnance. They might find it and start to play with it,” said Deal.

As a group of Girl Scouts moves from one station to another, they describe why they decided to join the Scout program.

"My aunt was in the Scouts so I wanted to follow her lead,” described a 13-year-old Girl Scout.

Two sisters joined the Girl Scouts when their mother began participating as a volunteer with the program.

Many of the young women described family members and friends that had participated in the Scout program and encouraged them to consider it.  They shared that they especially enjoy camping and learning first aid.

"If I had the chance to meet a Girl Scout from another place, I would ask her what she enjoys about being a Scout,” said one 16-year-old Girl Scout.

The volunteers here are working to set up partnerships with troops back in their home countries, and in the meantime they receive donated items from friends and fellow Scouts around the world.

"All of these items for the first-aid kits were sent by a friend of mine working on his Eagle Scout Project,” said Deal.  "Mohammad told us they didn’t have first-aid items so today they are building personal first-aid kits.  My friend raised all the money and gathered donations, and what we have left after the personal kits are done will be donated to the troops for their use.”

As the children and their international leaders prepared to move on to a game of soccer and additional activities for the day the laughter, friendship and camaraderie continued on.

"I enjoy interacting with the children,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Adam Howland, a military volunteer. "We should remember that the Scout program is much bigger than our small troops.  It is actually about creating a culture of friendship and peace and that message is absolutely being presented here.”

Resolute Support is a NATO-led, non-combat mission. It was launched on January 1, 2015, following the conclusion of the previous NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission, and the assumption of full security responsibility by the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF). Its purpose is to help the Afghan security forces and institutions develop the capacity to defend Afghanistan and protect its citizens in a sustainable manner.

 

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