Saturday, February 6, 2010

Nuristan PRT Female Engagement Team Bonds with local women

By U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Natassia Cherne
Nuristan Provincial Reconstruction Team Public Affairs

NURISTAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The Nuristan Provincial Reconstruction Team’s female engagement team visited the Nangarach village to hold a female shura and help start a community self help project, Jan. 26.

The objective of the shura was to take the women through the process of filling out a project proposal for a community self help project involving sewing machines.

Sixteen women attended the shura, including a village malik, or tribal leader; an interpreter; and five women from the Nuristan PRT.

The team leaders who organized the shura were U.S. Navy Lt. j.g. Stacey Gross, the information operations officer for Nuristan PRT, a native from Lakeville, Minn. and U.S. Agency for International Development representative for Nuristan PRT, Leah Kaplan, a native of Denver Colorado.

Before, the PRT can provide funds or materials for self-help projects under $5,000, the community must agree to make a contribution to the project.

For this project, the women of Nangarach village agreed to provided a place for the sewing machines.

Once the shura objectives were met, Kaplan asked the local women if they would teach the women of the PRT how use henna, a dye that is used regularly by the women in Afghanistan for body art.

At first the women were shy about getting close to American women, but one woman took the hand of one of the women on the team and began drawing a design. Once the other women saw the interaction, the ice was broken and a bond between the women was made.

“The meeting with the women of Nangarach was a huge success,” Kaplan said. “Not only were we able to spend time getting to know the women and learning a little bit about their culture, but the women showed strong initiative for their own development by planning their own women's shura to talk about the project proposal they would like to submit to the government for sewing machines.”

The female engagement team’s ultimate goal for the women is to be self-sufficient. For example, the PRT wants the local women to create a female committee to be in of charge of teaching other women in the village how to sew. They would be responsible for ensuring they put aside funds to maintain all the sewing machines.

Eventually, the PRT would like to establish an adult female literacy program for the women, in hopes of empowering them in the future. Gross and Kaplan were able to identify two literate women in the village who with proper training, could teach other women to read and write.

The female engagement team plans on visiting the women in a few weeks to check on the status of the sewing project and they would like to follow up on the potential for a literacy program.

NURISTAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Members from the Nuristan Provincial Reconstruction Team, female engagement team hold out their hands that were decorated by local women from the Nangarach village with henna, Jan. 26. Henna, is a dye that is used regularly by the women in Afghanistan for body art. The Nuristan PRT FET goal is to promote female literacy and equality for the women of Nuristan, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt Natassia Cherne Nuristan Provincial Reconstruction Team Public Affairs)

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