17 Jul. 2008

Progress in Uruzgan visualized by children

The Australian Reconstruction Task Force (RTF) has made a major breakthrough in winning the hearts and minds of the Afghan citizens. Today, the once wary and protective parents allow their children to play games with them.

In 2006 when the first Australian RTF, as part of Task Force Uruzgan, arrived in Uruzgan province, it was not uncommon for soldiers to have local citizens throw rocks at them, or worse.
The poor security situation and lack of effective local governance meant few people had proper jobs, and there was little or no support in maintaining and improving infrastructure.

“The locals were non-permissive this time last year,” said Captain Alli Gillam, the Australian liaison officer to the multi-national TF Uruzgan. “But now I can play peekaboo with the kids. This is something that simply wouldn't have been allowed before.”
“Economic and social development is alive and well,”
she continued. “People have the money to buy materials and are developing the skills to do the work. There are now local people doing the jobs we would have been doing before.”
“Two years ago there were very few cars, and you rarely saw women out and about. Now there are more cars on the roads, and women seen in public, than I can count,” she said.

“Recently I was assisting at a vehicle check point when a little girl noticed I was a woman. The next thing, I was being invited inside a quala to sit with the women and have tea with them,” Captain Gillam said.

Contact Information ISAF Public Information Office
Tel: +93 (0)79 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/