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Santa Given a Helping Hand in Afghanistan

Santa Given a Helping Hand in Afghanistan

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New Zealand Defence Force
Te Ope Kaatua O Aotearoa

Media Release

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Santa Given a Helping Hand in Afghanistan

New Zealand troops serving in Afghanistan have been giving Santa a helping hand in the lead up to Christmas, distributing 1000 teddy bears and dolls to children at a hospital in North West Bamyan province.

The toys were distributed by a New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team (NZ PRT) patrol during a recent visit to Nayak Hospital in Bamyan’s Yakawlang district.

Patrol medic Lance Corporal Joy Thorin said soft toys were rare in Afghanistan and extremely sought after by local children.

Gifting them to children recovering from ailments such as pneumonia and the flu was particularly satisfying, she said.

New Zealand Defence Force personnel were given the toys by women from office 57 of the American Veterans organisation.

Flight Lieutenant Mark Brewer said seeing the children’s faces as he handed out the presents was one of the highlights of his tour so far.

“The distribution of simple amenities and items of comfort makes a big difference to the lives of young Afghan children.”

Friendly gestures of this sort also play a valuable role in building relationships between the NZ PRT and the local community, he said.

Currently 108 New Zealand Defence Force Personnel are serving in the Bamyan province reconstruction team.

Their tasks include carrying out regular patrols to ensure security, liaising with local government and helping to distribute aid and improve infrastructure.


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