Bin Liners and Brooms Replace Rifles and Bullets
A year ago, Check Points in Nad-e Ali were routinely under insurgent attack. However, six months later, rifles and bullets have been replaced with bin-liners and spades in a string of Community Pride days.
B Company, 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles (2 RGR), deployed to Nad-e Ali South earlier this year prepared for insurgent activity and have been astounded with the progress in the area and level of security the locals are enjoying.
Although still helping to provide security assistance to the Afghan forces, the Gurkhas have found themselves taking part in community activities more than fighting.
The villages of Baluchan and Shin Kalay used to be insurgent strongholds where the local people were unable to lead normal lives for fear of insurgent reprisal. Now the people are gaining confidence as a result of the improved security. Small shops are opening up and the roads are busy with passing trade.
This week a patrol of Gurkhas and Afghan National Civil Order Police (ANCOP) armed with bin-liners and spades stepped out of Check Point Tandar to join the locals from the area to clean up the streams and alley-ways of discarded rubbish.
A few days later the Gurkhas from Check Point Kamyab joined the Afghan National Army (ANA) to run the same initiative in the Kakaran Bazaar in Baluchan.
Lieutenant Mohammad Khalid, 3rd Kandak, Afghan National Army Commander:
“Twenty Afghan National Army soldiers took part in the initiative and around one hundred children and twenty-five local people turned up at Kakaran Bazaar. We offered a kite as the top prize to the child who filled their bag with rubbish first. To say thank you to the remainder we handed out radios and notebooks. It was a really successful day”.
This is the product of a number of shuras between local elders and members of the ANA and ANCOP to talk about ways to improve community relations and occupy the children during the summer holidays.
Capt Ramkumar Rai from B Coy, 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles is the Commander of Check Point Tandar:
“My platoon, along with the ANCOP, patrol in and around Shin Kalay on a daily basis. Having been here for three months we have made many friends and know the majority of people. The key leaders of the village are very important, and this initiative was welcomed by them as a great way to bring the community and young people together.”
Once the initiative started, more and more shop keepers and children joined in the task armed with spades and brushes. Even some passers-by stopped to take part. Bin-liners were quickly filled with wrappers and empty water bottles which were then taken away for disposal by the ANCOP and ANA.
For their efforts, the children involved received radios and notebooks from the ANCOP and ANP personnel.
Capt Gagendra Dewan, Second in Command, B Coy, 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles:
“The event was a huge success. The people who live around the bazaar area of Baluchan seemed genuinely pleased that the area looked so clean. ANSF, with little ISAF involvement, lead the event and certainly established a sense of community pride that their bazaar was the cleanest in the district.”
It is hoped that this type of initiative will spread to other localities during Ramadan. The aim of Community Pride days is to continue building relationships between the ANSF and the communities in which they serve in order to maintain the peace and prosperity being enjoyed after so many years of conflict.