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The Mountaineer Online

Female Soldiers visit girls’ schools in Kunduz

Spc. Blair Neelands

1st Brigade Combat Team Journalist

KUNDUZ, Afghanistan – Soldiers of the Female Engagement Team from 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, visited two all-girl schools here Sept. 5.

Soldiers spoke with both headmasters and many of the teachers to find out the needs of the schools, which collectively teach more than 8,000 girls from Kunduz.

“We visited the two schools to see their facilities and see what concerns they have,” said Sgt. Nicole Ballinger, a truck driver with F Company. “We wanted to see what problems were there and see what we could possibly do to help.”

Both schools have serious problems with their water supplies. Limited resources for clean water have greatly affected the wellness of the students and staff.

“The first school needs to have their well fixed because right now they only have one well for more than 4,000 students,” Ballinger said. "The second school had no water completely – I hope we can help them with this.”

After talking about concerns for the school, Soldiers took time to walk around and meet with the children. To their surprise, many of the students spoke English very well.

“One girl approached me and started talking to me in English,” said Spc. Brandy Knight, a truck driver with F Company. “That was amazing. I didn’t realize their education level was that good.”

While talking to this particular student, Knight was surprised once again, but this time with a gift from the student.

“She gave me a ring,” she said. “She told me that it’s silver, and it’s a gift from her to me to keep for always. She said I meant something to her.”

Ballinger and Knight said this interaction with the students was more than they ever expected. In the months to come, both Soldiers would both like to continue to visit the schools while students are attending class.

“I would love to go back to those schools,” Knight said. “Hopefully next time we go, it’s not so much business. I would like to just be able to go there, hang out, sit down with them and go to the classes they go through all day.”

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