2 Signal Regiment Op HERRICK 13 Humanitarian Aid Drop (HAD)
2 Signal Regiment are the Kabul Joint Support Unit (KJSU) lead and have conducted a number of HADs in their local area, two of which were conducted in November with elements of 16 Medical Regiment supporting.
The area surrounding Camp Souter where they are based is, in general, very poor and many families within the community struggle to cope with everyday life. The aim of the HAD is to provide the 60 most needy families with some of life’s basic necessities and a few ‘luxuries’. The local community leader chooses the recipients and issues them with the ‘golden ticket’, which must be presented on the day.
On 15th November, SSgt Havery, LCpl Gibson and Pte Gurung from 16 Med Regt were fortunate enough to join other members of the KJSU to organise and divide up some of the items that were to be given on that HAD. As well as rice, cooking oil and bottled water, the families would also receive clothing, shoes and children’s toys such as footballs and kites. Items are donated by generous families in the UK and also Canada.
For each distribution, the HAD team receives a full brief before the gates to the camp are opened, ensuring team cohesion and a professional approach to the distribution. Each team member is given a specific role. A cordon ensures that the ever-swelling crowd are kept at a safe distance. The local Malik selects four locals who load the distributed donations into wheelbarrows and then pass this to the receiving families.
Families are called forward by a local interpreter and on producing their ticket, are given two wheelbarrows full of supplies which they can then decant into their own wheelbarrows or bags to take back to their homes.
Those involved in the HAD find the experience extremely rewarding. It is an opportunity to see first hand the local population benefiting from our presence and the generosity and support of the British public. The lasting memories will undoubtedly be of the heart-warming reactions from those receiving the aid and how grateful people are to receive what we perhaps see as such basic necessities and everyday items that we often take for granted. In fact, SSgt Havery reported a poignant sight just a few days later, when he saw a kite flying high in the Afghan sunshine: a far cry from a few years ago when this simple act of enjoyment was illegal.