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Army November 10, 2011
Engagement opens doors
OUT in the real Afghanistan,
away from any Hesco barri-
ers and the safety of hardened
accommodation, a Female
Engagement Team (FET) met
with Afghan women who had
never seen female soldiers.
The FET comprised two sol-
diers, Sgt Sam Lund and Cpl Katie
Lockwood, a medic, Sgt Bernadette
Serong, a Navy photographer, AB Jo
Dilorenzo, and an interpreter.
The team set off with an infan-
try section and engineers to meet
with local women in Zardagay,
in Uruzgan province's Karrmisan
"The reason for this FET mission
was to get out in the community,
which we have not been in before,
to engage with the local women and
promote the new Afghan National
Police checkpoint that will assist
with security," Sgt Lund said.
"It was also a chance to talk with
the women about health, education
and other topics that may come up
The team was accompanied by
engineers to search the compound,
and infantry soldiers for security.
Once the compound was
declared safe, the FET came in and
spoke to the Afghan women who
were set aside with the children.
"We would ask the senior
woman of the compound via the
interpreter if it would be okay to
chat to the women," Cpl Lockwood
"Most of the women were keen
to have a chat, though they were
a little taken back at first to see
women as soldiers."
The topics spoken about ranged
from health and hygiene, food and
water, to education and income and
any topics of concern.
"One lady asked me how I can
be over here while my daughter is
at home. It made me stop and think
of home, how much I miss my little
girl Mia," Sgt Serong said.
"But honestly I answered I am
here to help people, whether they be
Defence or Afghan nationals, in a
medical capacity. Now out on FET
mission I can help."
The composition of the FET
helped the mission's success, with
the participants varying from mar-
ried, divorced, single and a mother.
This range of life experience
meant the female soldiers could
relate to the local women.
Embedded photographer AB
Dilorenzo said the mission was a
chance to capture a different way
"The women were shy -- they
were worried about getting their
photo taken," she said.
"They have a fear that the insur-
gents would see them talking to
ISAF forces, unsure of what may
happen, but they were still keen
to see their children on the small
screen on my digital camera."
The FET mission was an effec-
tive one. The information that was
gathered will be reported to the
appropriate organisations to assist
the area where possible and help
change the community for the better.
Gaining trust: MTF 3's Female Engagement Team meets with local
Afghan women in the Karrmisan Valley. Inset, An Afghan woman is shy
about having her photo taken but wants to see her child's picture.
Photos by AB Jo Dilorenzo
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