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District governor reaches out to Sangin villagers

By None , Regional Command Southwest

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PATROL BASE MATEEN, Helmand, Afghanistan (May 29, 2011) — The Sangin District Gov. Mohammed Sharif visited his constituents in the village of Tughay today for the first time.

Villagers of Tughay, in what is commonly known as “the green zone,” received the governor during one of their weekly meetings on Patrol Base Mateen.

The villagers had many grievances for the district governor to address; however, none of them were about security in the area.

There were the usual virulent debates about land and property by village elders sitting cross legged on woven rugs. One man’s presence made this event entirely unique, Mohammed Sharif.

He entered a tent crowded with 83 elders to the sound of the Afghan national anthem.

The shura was one of the first of its kind for the district of Sangin, where not more than six months ago, shuras with the district governor were limited to a heavily patrolled area in the vicinity of Forward Operating Base Jackson in the district center.

“I know everything that goes on in Sangin,” said Sharif. “The people of Tughay are asking the government of Afghanistan for projects, reconstruction and providing security.”

“Every one of you has the right to come to me [and] to come to the chief of police whenever you have any problems,” said Shariff.

Many of the elders admitted that they did not know the district governor but hoped that he could help them.

“I just showed up to see if the [district governor] has help for the people,” said one elder.

The district governor explained how help would come but only if the people organized.

“The contractor for every project in your area for you people is up to you guys to pick,” said Sharif. 

The projects Tughay villagers want will come but they must be a part of the process, explained the district governor. An elder must be chosen by the people of Tughay to represent the village and identify the project need to the district governor. 

This shura will help with the formation of an Interim District Community Council where villages will send an elder to the district center to represent their areas. Provincial Gov. Gulab Mangal, based out of Helmand province’s capitol Lash Kar Gah, has signed off on this initiative. The goal is to have the DCC become a fully democratic process. During this interim phase, village elders need to be identified by their peers and approved by the district governor. 

Sharif’s goal is to continue his outreach to the villages surrounding the district center in the future.