PMT Conducts Humanitarian Assistance, Medical Outreach in Kandahar
Story and Photos by First Lt. Amy Bonanno, ARSIC-South PAO
Kandahar— Members of a local Police Mentor Team (PMT) conducted an unprecedented medical outreach program and provided humanitarian assistance goods to local Afghans here this week.
“I asked the local Afghan Police Commander where the need was the greatest and how we could help, and Brig. Gen. Sadar Mohammad Zazai replied that the heart of Kandahar was in the greatest need for humanitarian and medical assistance,” said Maj. Robert Purcell, PMT Team Leader. From that point onward, this PMT team quickly helped the Afghan National Civil Order Police (ANCOP) plan and execute their second humanitarian assistance and medical outreach programs here.
With the doors that opened before 11:00 a.m. the residents of Kandahar were eager to be seen and eager to obtain some much needed supplies. Local residents were given cooking supplies such as flour, rice, sugar, cooking oil, and items for kids such as pens, backpacks, shoes, soccer balls, coloring books, and more.
Both men and women were seen separately by U.S. Army and Air Force Physician Assistant’s and medics from the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy for medical support. The ailments ranged from minor medical issues such as swollen ankles, burns, cuts, and dry noses to complaints such as heart ailments and possibly cancer in some cases, that a doctor would only be able to provide medical care.
“They’re a hearty people,” said Capt. Yolanda Johnson, a Physician’s Assistant from the New York Army National Guard, “if Americans had some of the issues the Afghans deal with, we wouldn’t have been able to handle it, but the Afghans, they’re tough.”
At one time the crowd of Afghans outside the gate became so overwhelming, as they tried to push their way into the ANCOP Compound, the mission to provide medical and humanitarian assistance had to be postponed to allow the ANCOP to provide control and order to the crowd outside who were eager to come in.
“It’s the job of the Afghan police to provide crowd control and coverage, we’re here to assist and mentor them as necessary. This is their operation and we’re here to support them,” said Purcell, as the ANCOP were gaining control of the disorder outside.
After a brief break, the doors were once again opened to the Afghan people, despite the fact that there were still many people waiting outside to be seen and helped.
More than 6,938 kilograms of supplies were provided for around 800 Afghan citizens. One villager paused as he walked to the medical aid station for men and said, “Tashakor, Tashakor” over and over in thanks to the ANCOP and Americans for providing helpful supplies and medical care for the first time in a long time.
Despite the good intentions of the ANCOP and the U.S. forces who are here to help the Afghans in any way they can, the Afghans were almost too eager for their own good to gain access into the compound to get their hands on anything and everything- they tore at the humanitarian goods and came back for more than their share. They cut each other in line to receive medical aid and tried coming back through the crowd for a second chance to get in the compound for more.
“It’s great to help the Afghans as much as we’re able to; I always enjoy these types of missions. It seems that the Afghans don’t get as much help as they need sometimes and their survival instinct kicks in too often,” said Private First Class Darren Dorr, member of the PMT.
“We need to do more of these humanitarian efforts to show the Afghans their government supports them and wants them to succeed and grow,” concluded Gen. Zazai.