FARAH CITY, Afghanistan (April 10, 2013) Lt. j.g. Matthew Stroup, left, public affairs officer for Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Farah, discusses communications planning and social networking with Lal Mohammed Bahari, Farah provincial director of information and culture, during a key leader engagement. PRT Farah’s mission is to train, advise and assist Afghan government leaders at the municipal, district and provincial levels in Farah province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Hospital Corpsman Josh Ives/Released)
FARAH CITY, Afghanistan (NNS) — Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Farah met with the local Director of Information and Culture, Lal Mohammed Bahari, to deliver cameras and video equipment provided by the International Center for Journalists in Farah City here, Apr. 10.
One of the PRT’s primary objectives is to help build local capacity and to connect local Afghans to enduring resources in order to provide resources post-transition.
U.S. Navy Lt. j.g. Matthew Stroup, the team’s public affairs officer, works directly with Bahari in a train, advise and assist role, and also works with local leaders and media to build capacity.
Most recently the PRT participated in an Afghan-led journalism training course for more than 40 male and female journalists, where they were asked to provide the photojournalism portion of the course. Throughout the full course, students were trained on story writing techniques, coordination with media outlets, basic photojournalism skills and interview techniques. The PRT also provided communications planning training with six local line directors in support of disseminating information to the people of Farah. The curriculums for the courses supported by the PRT were provided by the Naval Public Affairs Support Element East and the Defense Information School.
“Development work, like a good portion of our main effort at the PRT isn’t sexy and it takes an awful lot of time to see results,” said Stroup. “But it is very rewarding to see people you have trained and spent time with take the skills you’ve passed along and use them.”
After completing the training course with local journalists, Stroup contacted NGO’s and other organizations to find resources and training materials to help support free media and information dissemination in Farah. One of his first contacts was a cold call to the International Center for Journalists in Washington, D.C., which works to support free media around the world by providing resources and training.
“When I initially called, I was looking to see if they had any Dari translations of their training materials so we could teach some classes here in Farah,” said Stroup. “Unfortunately they didn’t have any, but they did say that they might have some secondhand cameras that were available as they were moving offices, if I was willing to pick them up.”
While on short break to visit family in Virginia, Stroup took a brief trip to Washington, D.C., with his wife for a getaway and picked up the video cameras, still cameras and Flip cameras from ICFJ’s offices just behind the White House.
U.S. Navy Cmdr. Louis McCray, commanding officer of the PRT is a proponent of the capacity building efforts that the PRT is taking on.
“The big win here is that we’re building capacity and connecting Farahis to a viable resource that will endure past the 2014 security transition,” said McCray. “One of the challenges I gave the team at the beginning of deployment was to build capacity and to link our Afghan counterparts to enduring resources - this does just that. Our team has done a great job of finding unique ways to use existing resources to train local hospital staff, journalists, entrepreneurs and the like.”
In addition to the cameras and training for local journalists and leaders, the PRT has plans to continue media and communications training. In order to strengthen the bond between ICFJ and local journalists and leaders, a few Farah locals have volunteered to translate the organizations products into Dari for use in local journalism training. Along with new training manuals, the PRT will support social media training for local leadership.
“We really appreciate the support of the people of America,” said Bahari. “These cameras will be very helpful for journalists to share the story of Farah in all of Afghanistan.”
And while the media in Farah is not nearly as developed as media outlets in New York, Los Angeles, or Kabul, there is reason for optimism. Continued capacity-building training like the journalism workshop in Farah City will provide the resources necessary for Farahis to have a clear voice as transition is completed in 2014.
PRT Farah’s mission is to train, advise, and assist Afghan government leaders at the municipal, district, and provincial levels in Farah province, Afghanistan. Their civil-military team is comprised of members of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). For more information about the PRT follow their page on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/PRTFRH