Bazaar school reopens to Afghan children

  • Published
  • By Capt. Passion Julinsey
  • 451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
In a symbolic gesture, a young Afghan boy cut the ribbon of the new bazaar school during a ceremony Jan. 21.

About 50 Afghan boys gathered around Netherlands Col. Kees Marselis, Kandahar Airfield deputy commander and chief of staff, as he spoke about the initiative that went into making the new bazaar school a reality.

"This school represents progress based on initiative. Initiative, whether high or low, contributes to social and economic development. This school wouldn't be possible without volunteers and donations from here and abroad," said Marselis.

"Bringing joy and education to children is immeasurable," he said. "Today we celebrate the possibility of keeping education alive for the next generation of Afghanistan"

Marselis thanked the Airmen civil engineers who make up the 809th Expeditionary RED HORSE Squadron for taking the lead in rebuilding the school, which had burned down in October 2011. He also recognized the volunteers who show up each week, the generous donors from various countries and the Afghan families who are supportive of their children receiving an education.

Between 50 to 75 Afghan boys attend the school each Saturday. While their relatives are selling goods to the base population at the adjacent bazaar, the boys gather inside a classroom to learn math, science and Pashto.

For this particular Saturday, being the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing's turn to volunteer, Staff Sgt. Ramiro Quevedo had assembled a group of Airmen to play soccer with the Afghan boys.

At a nearby table, Lt. Col. Patrick Verdon, Tactical Air Control Center liaison officer, had soccer outfits and shoes ready for the boys. The items came from his soccer club in Morristown, N.J.

After a vigorous and friendly game between the 451st AEW volunteers and the Afghan boys, the 451st AEW team won 1-0.

Stephanie Tarsus, civilian coordinator for the bazaar school, smiled and called it another successful week of bazaar school.