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New York Firefighters, Police Deliver Aid to Afghan Children - 2001-12-21

An orphanage in the Afghan capital, Kabul, received a shipment of humanitarian supplies Friday from a private foundation in the United States, created to support victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The aid package was delivered by a group of men who have been called heroes for their efforts to save lives at the World Trade Center in New York.

A seven-year-old boy sang from the Koran as part of the welcome ceremony for the Americans at a Kabul orphanage Friday. Hundreds of children, many holding bouquets of flowers, were on hand to greet six firefighters and two policemen from New York City. Thirteen-year-old Nur Rahman says he knows why the men have come to Afghanistan.

He says the Americans have come to help the children and he is very happy to see them. He says the weather is very cold and they all need blankets and stoves.

Stoves are not on the supply list this time. But the men did bring nearly 50,000 kilos of cooking oil, rice, powdered milk and blankets. The administrator of the orphanage says the gifts, purchased with private donations in the United States, should be sufficient to provide for the needs of the 830 children who live there, for at least three months.

New York firefighter Joe Higgins says the men volunteered to deliver the goods because they wanted to send a special message to the Afghan people.

"We don't hold the people of Afghanistan accountable for the actions of a small few, that we are bigger than this and we will help them if we can," he said.

Earlier in the day, the firefighters and policemen held an emotional meeting with U.S. troops stationed at Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul. In a ceremony laden with symbolism, several Special Forces soldiers helped the men bury a small piece of the World Trade Center in a field at the base.

Hundreds of New York firefighters and policemen lost their lives on September 11 when the crippled twin towers collapsed on them during a rescue operation.