By Air Force Capt. Dustin Hart
Special to American Forces Press Service
Feb. 10, 2009 - Mina Wali, an Afghan-American woman who lived in the United States for 28 years, returned to Afghanistan four years ago to help bring a brighter future to people here. Through her hard work, close relationships with the residents of Sham Shapur and her relentless fund-raising efforts, Wali has brought education and health care to the rural village.
An Afghan school, named Hope of Mother, was completed in 2006 and educates about 400 students, more than half of them girls. On Feb. 4, two Hope of Mother schoolgirls helped to cut the ribbon signifying the completion of the Hope of Mother clinic in the Surkh Rod district of Afghanistan's Nangarhar province.
"My hope and desire for everyone in this village was to make [these two facilities] a reality," Wali said during the clinic ribbon-cutting ceremony. "Now that desire has been met, and I couldn't be happier."
During the ceremony, Said Ali Akbar, Surhk Rod sub-governor, thanked Wali for showing the "lamp of education" to the people of his district.
"I'm proud to be part of the health and education movement taking place here, and it's my honor to be here today for this event," Akbar said. "Now, it is our responsibility to take care of this building as if it is our own."
With the completion of the new clinic, students and villagers will have access to immediate basic health care.
Although the funding for Hope of Mother projects comes from Wali's international fund-raising efforts, the Nangarhar Provincial Reconstruction Team assists with reconstruction projects such as drinking wells in Sham Shapur and provides school supplies to the Hope of Mother students while developing a relationship with the school and village.
"Mina and the people of this village show the true Afghan spirit and demonstrate how good things can happen regardless of their surroundings," Army Maj. Gary Knoer, Nangarhar PRT civil affairs team leader, said. "This clinic was Mina's dream that she shared with the village. Through the hard work of the villagers and assistance from their government, this became a reality."
Wali also credited the recent successes to the dedication of the local villagers.
"All reconstruction you see here is the work of these villagers," she said. "These people volunteered their expertise to do this work.
"I want to prove to the international community that these villages are safe for this type of reconstruction," she continued. "It's the people that make these places safe."
(Air Force Capt. Dustin Hart serves in the Nangarhar Provincial Reconstruction Team public affairs office.)