My Last Tour: A Girls School Visit

Afghan students show off their new Beanie Babies, gifts distributed by SMSgt. Temple and his teammates.
Afghan students show off their new Beanie Babies, gifts distributed by SMSgt. Temple and his teammates.
TAMPA (2010-3-29) -

Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple tells us about his trip to an Afghan girls school where he distributed pens, paper and other items. It was his first chance to distribute school supplies donated by students and businesses in the Tampa Bay area and elsewhere because schools are closed during the winter in Afghanistan.

Classes are in triple sessions because so many students want to learn. A freshly painted concrete building holds some classrooms, but there is no electricity so no lights. Outside tattered tents with gravel floors accommodate the overflow of female students.

“The females were very timid, very shy especially when we started taking photographs,” Temple noted. “But also when we started handing out the notebooks, the pens and the pencils, they would not take it from our hands. They would keep their hands on their laps and we would set it down on their desktops.”

Temple speculated their shyness was due in part to him being a foreigner and their fear of the Taliban which objects to young women being educated.

“Just by them coming to school, they take a great risk and now you have coalition forces going in visiting them and putting on a big show, and attracting a lot of attention,” Temple said.

Thankful for the school supplies and Beanie Babies, the school’s director made another request for was a chemistry lab and medical and first aid supplies.

The young women got an unexpected lesson from a female, Air Force lieutenant colonel who was in charge of the school supplies mission. Seeing her lead the military forces enlightened the young women.

“In fact, they told the headmistress that they were very inspired to see that a female was in charge of the team and rise through the ranks like that,” Temple said. “They have aspirations to become lawyers, doctors, teachers just like any American student. But, they have many more obstacles preventing them from achieving that goal or dream.”

Security was tight surrounding President Barrack Obama’s visit to Afghanistan that Temple learned about it from his wife during their daily chat. Temple is stationed at a Forward Operating Base, so he did not have a chance to see the Commander-in-Chief.

“For me it’s very motivational,” Temple said. “He met with President Karzai and he addressed the concerns that I have been talking about all year long about the endemic corruption. They need to get control of that.”

One other note today: Temple got word that his year-long deployment is nearing an end and will actually be shortened by about two weeks. He doesn't have a return date yet, and says he's still focused on the missions he has left to accomplish.

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