By 1st Lt. Kenya Virginia Saenz, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
Feb. 4, 2008 - Afghan workers recently learned skills that will make them more marketable in their country's expanding construction industry, thanks to U.S. Army engineers from Task Force Pacemaker. Army 1st Lt. Grayson Pranin and Sgt. 1st Class Clay Wait, Support Platoon, 585th Engineer Company, from Fort Lewis, Wash., led a workshop Jan. 21-28 that increased the construction knowledge of 50 unskilled and partially skilled Afghans nominated by the provincial government and Afghan contractors.
The seven-day course consisted of lectures in job safety, tools and their proper uses, as well as basic carpentry. The event culminated with a competition, with the students divided into groups of 10 and each group building a tool shed. At the end of the course, the students received the tools they used during their classes and a certificate of training.
Asadullah, 18, a workshop participant, said he has some experience in carpentry and mixing concrete, and the class taught him American standards of mixing concrete and placing rebar on a cement pad. He was recognized as an excellent student in his group and was rewarded by being able to keep the tool shed his group built. He plans to turn the shed into a carpenter shop for his local community.
"I think that this skill labor workshop is important for the development of Afghanistan," said Qassem, 22, another student at the workshop. "It was amazing to build the tool shed, especially the trusses on the roof."
This was the task force's second workshop this year. The course includes meals, tools and materials financed through U.S. Commander's Emergency Response Program funds.
(Army 1st Lt. Kenya Virginia Saenz serves in public affairs with Task Force Pacemaker.)