By Staff Sgt. Joe Armas, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs
BAGHLAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan (November 27, 2011) — All across Afghanistan, on a daily basis, soldiers and other members of coalition forces are making a difference in the lives of the Afghan populace.
In northern Afghanistan, three female soldiers assigned to the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, had their opportunity to make a difference by teaching local Afghan women important skills they could use to improve their daily lives.
The soldiers conducted medical seminars with Afghan females near the town of Tapagurghan Nov. 16-20.
The seminars mainly focused on the topics of basic anatomy and physiology, reproductive health, child illnesses and basic first aid, according to Capt. Lynn Gower, a flight physician assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Task Force Guns, 1st ACB, originally from Sublimity, Ore.
Gower continued, saying the training was essential and worthwhile.
“For whatever reason, they never learned these basic skills,” added Gower. “Now, as a result of this training, they know how to tackle common illnesses that affect women and young children.”
The training consisted of PowerPoint presentations and hands-on exercises that allowed the Afghan women to practice basic first aid tasks.
Moreover, the women who took part in the training ranged from midwives to community health workers from around the surrounding villages.
An attentive group of more than a dozen females took the content of the seminars very seriously, said Staff Sgt. Josephine Taototo, the senior medic for Task Force Lobos, 1st ACB, originally from Monterrey, Calif.
“[The Afghan females] seemed really engaged during the whole week, especially when the topic of child illnesses was covered,” added Taototo.
At the conclusion of the training, the soldiers presented the Afghan ladies with certificates of completion. The Afghans, as a token of their appreciation, adorned the soldiers with a dye that is derived from the henna plant, a tradition that is usually reserved for special occasions throughout the Middle East.
Gower said the interaction during the week helped foster trust between the local population and the coalition forces here.
“We’re trying to improve their lives while we’re in their country,” said Gower. “These classes that we conducted help garner that trust, even if it’s just a little.”
The experience proved to be beneficial and a gratifying experience for everyone involved, Gower continued.
“It was a great chance to learn more about the Afghan culture and give the ladies knowledge that they can spread among their peers,” said Gower.
Taototo said she thoroughly enjoyed the chance to interact with the local population, an opportunity that doesn’t come often.
“I feel like I made more of an impact this past week than I had during any previous time during the deployment,” added Taototo. “I think we really made a difference, and I hope we get the opportunity to do this again.”