Afghan children of Camp Atterbury hit the books as they begin new American lives

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Photo provided by Indiana National Guard

JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind. — Nearly 80 Afghan children began their new lives in Camp Atterbury with a day American children both anticipate and dread: The first day of school.

As thousands of Afghan evacuees temporarily call Camp Atterbury home, the Indiana National Guard stated soldiers and volunteers are helping the Afghans adjust to a new state of life which includes sending the kids back before the chalkboard.

“This is important because it builds a bridge to their future lives in American schools,” said Sara Jallal, who was born in Afghanistan and immigrated to the U.S. at age 5.

Jallal, now a fourth-grade teacher in Bloomington, volunteered her time at Camp Atterbury on Sunday teaching the evacuee children the basics of the English alphabet along with some simple words.

Jallal stated she felt “blessed and connected to this plight” after hearing Indiana would be welcoming the evacuees into Camp Atterbury. Jallal knew she had an important role to play in the lives of the young Afghan’s who soon would be calling a brand new — and very foreign — country home.

But Jallal wasn’t alone in her educational mission. U.S. Army Pfc. Rion Moreland of Virginia Beach, Virginia, stepped up at the opportunity to assist Jallal, the Indiana National Guard reported.

“Every day I get to spend time with the kids is a good day,” said Moreland. “I considered a degree in teaching before I joined the Army. So, this is a really good day.”

To date, more than 6,000 evacuees are reported to be housed in Camp Atterbury. Of those evacuees, 14 percent are said to be 4 years of age and younger and 25 percent are between the ages of 5 and 14 years old.

The Indiana National Guard previously announced several armories began accepting donations for those wishing to extend Hoosier hospitality to the evacuees.

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