By Airman 1st Class Darius Frazier
JOINT BASE – A young Afghan child named Sayeer who is part of the Afghan evacuee population at Liberty Village, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, received a new pair of glasses thanks to the help and coordination of numerous Task Force Liberty personnel.
Sayeer had suffered a previous head trauma that hindered his sight.
“This particular boy had been spending a lot of time with our medical folks and I noticed that one of his eyes was a bit off,” said Maj. Stephanie Bukowksi, Task Force Liberty deputy mayor. “I asked one of the translators what was going on with him, and we found out he had had some head trauma that caused him to lose sight in one of his eyes.”
“Once we finally got him to see a doctor we had to figure out how we would go about funding the glasses. I would tell the family, especially the father, to speak to anyone who they could,” said Bukowksi. “That was when we met Andrea Molfetto from USAID, (and) she was able to find the funding to get him the glasses.”
The United States Agency for International Development is responsible for administering civilian foreign aid and development assistance. Several USAID members are part of Task Force Liberty under the Department of State.
“From the moment we greeted them in the village to pick them up, the father was elated and extremely grateful for our assistance. I know this small gesture meant the world to him,” said Andrea Molfetto, a USAID representative and education lead. “During the car ride we learned that the boy had sustained severe eye damage during an explosion while he was at school back in Afghanistan.”
Acts like this embody the mission Task Force Liberty members have been tasked with as part of the Department of Homeland Security-led mission, Operation Allies Welcome – to be hosts for Afghan guests and ensure their transition into the United States is as smooth as possible.
“The mother usually stayed up in her room but eventually started to come down more to visit,” said Bukowski. “The entire family was grateful even down to the littlest kids. Almost every day they would bring back food from the dining facility because that was their way of showing us how grateful they were.”
Operation Allies Welcome will help families like Sayeer’s have the chance to thrive here in the United States.
“Our involvement in Afghanistan for the past 20 years has come with so many positives and negatives, (and) I know there are a lot of misunderstandings about the mission and bringing these people over,” said Bukowski. “I think the relationships we’re creating here act as a middle ground for the Afghans who are resettling here. We can advocate that we are truly bringing wonderful, deserving families over.”
Sayeer and his family have been resettled into their new home in the U.S.
“Hearing a child say that his eyes are hurting, and understanding that if he did not get glasses he would have a challenging time in school, I was compelled to do something to try to set him up for success,” said Molfetto. “His father and his family have since been resettled in the U.S. and we still keep in touch.”