CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan -- The female engagement team in Now Zad, Helmand province, Afghanistan, is pushing for the speedy development of a women’s center, new school and other community projects.
In an effort to move the plans along, the Marines and their interpreter met with the district governor, Saied Mourad Sadat, at his compound, April 8.
They have made progress in the short time they have been here, but acknowledge there is still a long way to go.
“I wish things would work short term, but everything takes a long time to accomplish,” said Sgt. Habiba Abida, a team leader with FET 12, Now Zad. “It’s hard to give yourself deadlines for certain goals.”
The focus of the meeting was largely on the efficient development and management of the women’s center, but also on the female population in Now Zad as a whole.
“I’ve heard FET go and talk to females and ask what problems they have,” Sadat said. “Then [FET] comes and tells me what the women said so I can help, and it is positive for Now Zad and its people.”
Staff Sgt. Martha Warren, the staff non-commissioned officer in charge of the Regimental Combat Team 8 FETs, asked the district governor what specific problems women in his district were having.
“There is nothing for the widows,” Sadat replied. “We are in the process of getting [females with skills] to work and teach each other to provide for themselves.”
Warren, of Stone Park, Ill., also asked what specific impact FET was having on the local community.
“FET is a very good thing, because for the past five years with the war, lots of people have lost everything,” Sadat stated in response. “Females should know how to take care of themselves and their children.”
This is one of the main objectives of FET: to give women the skills and knowledge they need to make a living for themselves or to help support their husbands and families.
“Females are important, because a lot of families here are poor,” Sadat said. “Husbands go to the Taliban for work, but if the wives can teach husbands to work with the government instead of with people who are trying to destroy the country or villages, it will be good.”
They also discussed the hiring of a custodian for the women’s center, and how to teach local woman skills such as agriculture and sewing.
“I would love to say that by my first [mission break] I will have a full-time custodian at the women’s center, chickens for the coops, and sewing machines so the women could sew uniforms for Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan public schools,” said Abida, an Arlington, Va., native.
Abida felt that progress was made, and plans to meet in the near future to continue discussions were set. The district governor closed the meeting with an invitation for the FET Marines, and others with their unit, to join him for a dinner at his compound later that evening.
The dinner included a bonfire, traditional Afghan meal, music and hookah, but little talk of business. The dinner was more about a celebration of the growing working relationship between the Marines and the people of Now Zad.