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Xavier Magazine | April 27, 2017

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Rebuilding Hope in Afghanistan

Rebuilding Hope in Afghanistan
By France Griggs Sloat

On the bumpy, dusty two-and-a-half- hour drive from Salang back to Kabul, Special Forces Capt. Kevin Garfield, a 1998 graduate, put up with deep ruts, narrow roads—and sporadic gunfire. Another man might have retaliated, but Garfield fumed silently, examined the hole in his truck and thought about the good people he’s encountered since returning to Afghanistan in February.

The shots were disconcerting considering the mission Garfield and his fellow Army troops had just completed. The 60-mile trek last March delivered a load of books and school supplies to an elementary school in the mountains. Another load went to a school in Kabul. Both were the result of an abundance of donations sent by Terra Centre Elementary School in Burke, Va., where Garfield’s mother teaches, after he asked for help restoring a preschool for government workers’ children.

Karen Garfield’s efforts to rally the families of Burke were so successful that the donations of books, papers, coloring materials, paints, pens and pencils far exceeded the Kabul preschool’s immediate needs. There were 45 boxes, so Kevin Garfield took the leftovers into the hills.

The project began when Garfield, in charge of a signal team that helps set up communications in the city, visited the preschool there. He was appalled at the conditions—chipping paint, moldy walls, filthy kitchen, leaking pipes and a potbellied stove belching heat in the middle of the playroom.

Garfield grabbed construction materials and a few friends to do the work. In the two months it took them to put up new walls, paint, fix plumbing and install windows, the supplies from Terra Centre had arrived. “Both the parents and children were ecstatic about the renovations and the supplies,” Garfield said. “It’s good to see the ambition that a lot of the kids have out here to learn.”

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