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Petty Officer 3rd Class Kevin Pollock, a corpsman with Delta Company, 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division (Forward), hands a bag of hygiene supplies to an Afghan buy after a hygiene class at a local school, Jan. 19, 2011. Pollock, a 21-year-old native of Tampa Bay, Florida, and his fellow Marines and sailors gave the children bags containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, hand soap, and shampoo.

Photo by Cpl. Ned Johnson

Corpsmen teach Afghan children hygiene

24 Jan 2011 | Cpl. Ned Johnson 1st Marine Division

While Navy corpsmen and medical officers are attached to Marine units in Afghanistan for battlefield wounds and emergencies, one unit is using medical basics to better Afghanistan’s future.

The Marines and sailors with Delta Company, 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division (Forward), taught local schoolchildren proper hygiene techniques at a local school, Jan. 19.

“These are things most of us learned in kindergarten, but these kids have not learned it before,” said Navy Lt. Alwin Albert, the medical officer with Delta Co. “We want to spread the word to these kids and emphasize proper hygiene.”

This was the second time the Marines and sailors taught a hygiene class outside Combat Outpost Castle.

“It worked well, so the local schoolteacher asked us to come to the school so we could teach more of the kids,” Albert added.

The first class employed a power point presentation, but the local schoolhouse does not have electricity, so the Marines and sailors had to improvise. The warriors used a demonstration method by showing the kids what soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste look like and then acted out their proper usage.

The kids watched intently and they laughed during an example story called “The good sailor and the bad sailor.”

“You could tell they were paying attention and I am confident they are going to use what we taught them,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Robert Herrera, a corpsman with Delta Co.

After the class, the children were given a bag with hygiene products and snacks to eat. The bags contained a toothbrush, toothpaste, a bar of soap and shampoo.

While the Marines and sailors know the importance of hygiene, the class also had future implications for the health and welfare of the Afghan children.

“This is a good start for cleanliness, but the best thing will be that they can teach it to future generations and prevents diseases in the future,” said Herrera, a 25-year-old native of Sunrise, Fla.

Those involved said they benefited from the class as well.

“It’s a great feeling to be able to work locally and teach these children,” Herrera said. “We are helping to build new and good relationships with the people.”

The district governor and chief of police also attended the class and seemed pleased with the results.

The class may have been simple, but the Marines and sailors said they plan to take the program on the road and teach as many children of the neighboring villages as they can, to continue helping as many Afghans as they can.

1st Marine Division