10 Nov 2007

PR# 2007-707

ISAF unit provides orphans medical aid,
donated items

KABUL, Afghanistan – ISAF Regional Command-East servicemembers conducted a humanitarian aid and vision screening mission at an orphanage in Ghazni Province recently.

“We are here to do vision screening to see if anyone needs glasses,” said Army Maj. Ramey Wilson, an ISAF internal medicine physician. “We are checking all the children’s vision as well as asking the teachers if any of the children have shown any trouble reading.”

Eighty children at the orphanage received vision screening. The children who were identified as needing further eye exams to get prescription corrective eyewear will receive free glasses through a joint program with NOOR Eye Care, a non-governmental organization working in cooperation with the international assistance mission.

“Some children were identified as needing further testing,” said Wilson.  “If it is found that they need glasses, the cost will be paid by the non-governmental organizations and the glasses will be made for them in Kabul.”

In addition to conducting the vision screening, the Ghazni PRT also provided bags consisting of rice and beans, cooking supplies, cooking oil and sugar to the orphanage as well as medicine for the orphanage’s clinic.

 “We always try to bring donated items during our visits.  We have had an incredible response from the people at home in the U.S. who have sent clothes, shoes, school supplies and computers,” Wilson said.

While the Ghazni orphanage started out as an ISAF medical assessment mission, it has become a joint project between ISAF ground forces and assets from the Ghazni PRT.  This is especially true in delivery of donated items to the orphanage.

“The orphanage only gets money for food, so to cover the operating expenses they sometimes have to dip into those funds.  Giving them the food supplies helps bring the budget back into balance and ensures the children get enough to eat,” said Maj. Diana Hay, Ghazni PRT civil affairs team leader.

The visit gave Ghazni PRT servicemembers a chance to assess the facilities, which also serve as a school.  Occasionally, the number of children the facility serves can reach up to 200. 

“Each time we go we try to focus on a particular preventative medicine or general wellness issue,” explained Wilson. “We have done preventative medicine assessments to include water testing and evaluation of the food preparation areas.  Other things we have done are height and weight for growth charts, screening for goiter and other indicators of iodine deficiency which is more common in this area because the salt is not iodized.  In essence we are conducting school physicals.”

Servicemembers were also able to speak with the school administrators, principal and teachers. 

“Part of our work here is to try to establish what government and NGOs are taking care of the orphanage,” said Wilson.  “We try to coordinate our support in an effort to make the orphanage better and safer.” 

Coordinated and consistent support are important factors of success in projects such as the outreach to the Ghazni orphanage.  Forming relationships and following through on projects was stressed by the servicemembers who routinely visit the orphanage.

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