|Children receive much needed donations|
KABUL, Afghanistan — A small girl stands in the dark hallway, clinging to metal bars of the prison where her mother is possibly detained. Her face is dirty. Her feet are bare. A tattered dress is her only protection from the elements.
Such children are the reason International Security Assistance Force members visited the Kabul Female Prison and Detention Center, July 11, where they donated school supplies, shoes, women’s clothing, and toys.
“We wanted to brighten their day by giving the children some toys and school supplies,” said Air Force Chaplain (Maj.) Antonio Ortiz, HQ ISAF chaplain. “Hopefully when we go there and play with them, they’ll see our human side. When they grow up, they’ll do the right thing for their country, and not believe what the Taliban tells them.”
Advisors say many children live at the prison because their mothers are detained for various moral crimes, such as running away from an abusive household.
“Most of the children here are with their mothers until age seven,” said Nicole Acquil, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement/Corrections System Support Program advisor. “If no one takes them in by then, they are sent to a shelter.”
The HQ ISAF chapel staff received donations from U.S. churches, schools, families and generous individuals. Soccer balls were donated as part of Kick for Nick, a soccer ball collection program founded in honor of Army Pfc. Nicholas Madaras. The balls are distributed to children in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The teachers really wanted soccer balls for the school and day care,” said Acquil. “It’s a big help to the prison and the children. Most of them are poor and can’t afford much, so we are grateful for all the donations we’ve been receiving.” This particular mission came two weeks after a similar mission Ortiz led to another detention facility.
Ortiz said humanitarian missions like this are important to him because of the connection he feels with the local children.