On April 17, 2011, as part of "Operation Pencil," and in celebration of Global Youth Service Day, I traveled to an all-girls school and an all-boys school in Parwan Province, Afghanistan, to deliver 1,000 backpacks filled with school supplies to 1,000 children. I was part of a team that included Brigadier General Daniel Fincher, Deputy Director for Rule of Law, General Safaiullah, the head of the Afghan National Army, and other U.S. and Afghan soldiers and officials. We made sure every child received a backpack filled with school supplies -- even the smallest student who seemed to be pushed aside amidst the reach of eager hands and arms. We also presented new desks to the teachers, who otherwise sat on clay bricks.
"Operation Pencil" is a humanitarian assistance program created by the soldiers of the 16th Military Police Brigade to meet the supply needs for local Afghan school children and teachers. An event like this not only gives children the tools to learn, but it also builds stronger ties between U.S. and Afghan communities. I was honored to be a part of it.