Photo Information

Maj. John Rinaldi, a team leader with the 3rd Civil Affairs Group, picks up pencil sharpeners while unloading school supplies at Patrol Base Jaker, Sept. 1, 2010. The CAG made a last-minute purchase to ensure school children at the Landay Shar School would have the equipment they need for the beginning of the school year Sept. 5, 2010. Afghan police and soldiers will distribute the equipment.

Photo by Sgt. Mark Fayloga

Marines, Afghan forces acquire school supplies for first day of school

5 Sep 2010 | Sgt. Mark Fayloga

With the Landay Shar School in Helmand province, Afghanistan, all set to open its doors to the new school year, Sept. 5, preparations were made to ensure the school children would have the supplies to help set them up for success.

But even the best-laid plans can run into problems.

“Logistically things don’t always turn out the way you want them, no matter how well you plan for it,” said Master Sgt. Sean Sargeant, a team chief with the 3rd Civil Affairs Group.

When it was discovered that there would be about a five-day delay before supplies could reach the school, Sargeant took steps to make sure some children wouldn’t have to go their first day of school without anything to write on, or with.

Working with local Afghans, Sargeant and the CAG were able to gather enough supplies to provide a few hundred children with starter kits — a pencil, notebook, pencil sharpener and backpack as well as furnishing the schoolhouse with seating cushions, chairs and desks – enough to make-do with until the main shipment arrives.

“The Afghan police and soldiers will deliver the supplies to the kids,” Sargeant, from Scranton, Pa., said. “They’re going to be the face of the distribution.”

Sargeant was able to gather the supplies in just two days after working with local Afghans.

“We try to make all our purchases through the Afghans so we put the money in the economy,” Sargeant said. “Usually if people are doing okay financially and their families are supported then they’re happy and that’s what we try to do.”