LENOIR CITY, Tenn., April 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- As they searched for landmines and other unexploded ordnance at a Kabul, Afghanistan girls school, employees of Sterling Global Operations (SGO) knew their task was important, but its significance was amplified when a 15-year-old Pakistani girl was shot a few weeks later by Taliban terrorists because she wants an education.
Malala Yousafzai started school again in March 2013, five months after she was shot in the head by Taliban terrorists.
Malala's return to school reminded SGO employees of the importance of their work at Kabul, Afghanistan's Sardar Kabuli Girls School, said Matt Kaye, SGO president and chief executive officer.
"There are some 5,000 girls at the Sardar Kabuli School," Kaye said. "We're proud to have helped ensure their safety."
Fourteen SGO employees painstakingly searched for ordnance buried up to 1.5 meters (about five feet) deep. SGO certified more than two acres at the school site as being free of explosive remnants of war. Their major find was a 120-millimeter mortar shell, which has a blast radius of approximately 70 meters (nearly 230 feet) from the point of explosion.
The SGO project leader said Malala's story affected him personally.
"In the U.S. there is no question about the right of girls to an education," said Jeremy Stroud, SGO's Afghan Demining Technical Advisor. "However, in some countries many kinds of attacks occur all the time. Helping those kids was important to us. The clearance work was essential to ensure that girls aren't going to be wounded or killed by unexploded ordnance in their schoolyard."
SGO's work was carried out in accordance with Afghanistan Mine Action Standards so that a certificate of clearance could be issued after quality assurance was conducted by the Mine Action Coordination Center Afghanistan (MACCA).
"In the past couple of years, SGO has cleared more Afghan territory of mines and unexploded ordnance than any other commercial organization," Stroud said. "To see how it's helping people is something special to us."
Headquartered in Lenoir, City, Tenn., SGO is an employee-owned security and infrastructure support company employing approximately 3,500 professionals worldwide. The company serves customers with munitions response; intelligence support; logistics; security operations and other services in some of the world's most austere and hostile environments.