15 January 2010


British military personnel help reopen school in Babaji

A Military Operations news article

12 Jan 10

Captain Martha Fairlie is in charge of the British Military Stabilisation Support Team (MSST) for Babaji in Helmand province. Here she talks about one of the team's latest projects to reopen and develop a school.

Captain Martha Fairlie with an Afghan pupil

Captain Martha Fairlie helps an Afghan boy with his schoolwork at Wazir Fatir Han School in Spin Majid
[Picture: Copyright KNK 2009 via MOD]

Captain Martha Fairlie, from the Royal Engineers, arrived in Babaji at the start of September 2009, just a few weeks after the end of Operation PANTHER'S CLAW which cleared the Babaji area of insurgents. She is now midway through her tour.

Here she explains about one of the development projects that the MSST she heads up is undertaking:

''We are a team of nine men and women from all three of the Armed Services who are serving on Operation HERRICK 11 with the Coldstream Guards Battle Group to deliver stabilisation in the Babaji area, building up the role of the Afghan Government and restoring basic infrastructure and public services to allow the local population to lead a normal life after years of fighting in their villages.

''Over the past three months, the team have already seen changes in the attitude of the local population towards engaging with ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] soldiers and the Afghan Army and Police services and taking steps towards rebuilding their communities.

Afghan pupils carry school furniture

Afghan pupils help to move school furniture into the new tented classrooms at Wazir Fatir Han School
[Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

''During the first few weeks, the locals were very suspicious of us and took a lot of persuasion to discuss how we could help them. Three months later, we have over 80 projects ongoing, providing work for hundreds of local people and ranging from the repair of water wells and clearance of irrigation ditches to the rebuilding of a school and a clinic and the restoration of hydroelectric power to many villages.

''The best moment for me came recently when we saw children going to school in the area for the first time since the end of PANTHER'S CLAW.

''It has been an enormous struggle to persuade parents to send their children back to school - many are still scared of Taliban intimidation, but by working hard to improve security in the area they have slowly been convinced that they can have education here again....

Much more of this B*N*S*N story here.

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