Walking toward a better future

Afghan kids get help from Ramstein families

by Tech. Sgt. James Fisher
Headquarters International Security Assistance Force

***image1***The ability to reach back for resources is key to mission accomplishment for deployed forces. For a Ramstein lieutenant colonel deployed to Afghanistan, reaching back is also the key to making a difference.

Lt. Col. Randy Robertson, 86th Air and Space Communications Group deputy commander, is currently assigned to NATO’s Headquarters International Security Assistance Force there. Colonel Robertson, serving as chief of key leader engagements, wanted to help orphans and street children in Afghanistan. He reached back to his home station and his hometown, for help.

“It started out with one of our local non-governmental organizations,” Colonel Robertson said. “We were helping them out with providing some basic school supplies and toys for the children.The more we worked with them, the more we realized they needed much more, especially shoes.”

The colonel learned that children without shoes were unwilling to go to school during Kabul’s cold winter months. And, the lack of shoes was only part of the problem, said Ramazan Zaib, director of Global Point Afghanistan, a non-governmental organization that provides schooling for orphans and street children.

Because of decades of war and turmoil, Afghanistan is extremely poor and many of the nearly 500 children helped by Global Point are not orphans in the true sense, but without a parent to provide for them. They are left to get money however they can to support their families, Mr. Zaib explained.

“What you have are nine, 10 or even six-year-old children responsible for supporting a family,” Mr. Zaib said. Global Point is trying to educate these children and teach them trades like tailoring or carpet making they can use later on to earn money.

Colonel Robertson and his colleagues, with help from folks at Ramstein, found sources for shoes, school supplies and rent, including two private companies that sent boxes of shoes.

“When we found out we needed some money, we put a call in to my home unit back at Ramstein,” said Colonel Robertson. “I was amazed at the responses we got.”

Ramstein Enlisted Spouses’ Club sent more than $600. And folks from Colonel Robertson’s home town in Morton, Miss., sent $500, collected one morning in church.

“They mentioned my request in their Sunday school class and they got an overwhelming response,” Colonel Robertson said. “They were able to raise (the money) in one morning.”

The assistance collected was taken to Global Point and the shoes were distributed to the kids June 23.

“I am thankful to them,” Mr. Zaib said. “Thank you very much. I am relying on donors to keep this program going, and some American communities have helped us a lot.”