The Nuristan Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) is tasked with trying to win the hearts and minds of Afghans by providing low-cost community projects such as clinics, schools, and fresh water supplies. Two helicopters carrying 60 PRT team members including Commander George Perez (r.) and 1st Sargeant Willie Mitchell (l.) arrive at Barge Matal, in the far north of Nuristan, for a day of meeting with the shura (elders) of the village about what projects the local leaders might want and to set up a medical clinic. This marks the first stage in setting up development projects within the village. Danna Harman/The Christian Science Monitor
Children watch American troops coming in to their village from the roof of a mud house. The children are more curious and eager to spend time with American troops than the elders are. Nuristan is among the poorest provinces in Afghanistan. Danna Harman/The Christian Science Monitor
Commander George Perez buys strawberry wafers and candies from a nearby shop to hand out to local children. Next to him, a local translator wears a white baseball cap. Danna Harman/The Christian Science Monitor
After hours of waiting to meet with the shura, the atmosphere becomes more casual. Commander George Perez jokingly tries to teach the children to say thank you as he hands them candy. Danna Harman/The Christian Science Monitor
Children watch the goings on from a rooftop in Barge Matal, Nuristan Province. It is said the blue eyes and red hair of many here comes from the march of Alexander the Great's army through the region. Danna Harman/The Christian Science Monitor
American PRTs set up a clinic with a nurse and medical supplies for villagers. Many children show up to the clinic out of curiosity. This little girl explains in a whisper that her knee is sore. Next to her sits an Afghan-American translator, who passes on that information to the nurse. Danna Harman/The Christian Science Monitor
On the boys' side of the clinic, a young boy speaks with a medic soldier. The United States has now spent more than $32 billion in assistance - 32 percent of which was allocated to development and humanitarian assistance. Perez is commander of the Nuristan PRT, which is a Provincial Reconstruction Team. Danna Harman/The Christian Science Monitor
An old man wanders in Nuristan Province. This road is a new road, built with help from the PRT, and it's the only road leading out of the region to some of the bigger cities, like Jalalabad. Danna Harman/The Christian Science Monitor
Closer to the PRT main base in Kalagush, American soldiers meet with Afghani leaders. Here, they say goodbye to a police chief. They had met with this man previously, and he had requested barbed wire and bags of concrete for fortifications. The Americans said they would look into it. Danna Harman/The Christian Science Monitor
A young Afghan boy in Barge Matal stands against the wall of the religious school he attends outside Kalagush. When American troops come into villages, the main request is to help with building schools. Many children walk for hours over mountains to reach their nearest school. Danna Harman/The Christian Science Monitor
NATO said it is investigating the cause of the crash in Kandahar province, a region that is a traditional Taliban stronghold.
ByHeidi Vogt and Kay Johnson, Associated Press
A Black Hawk helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan killed 11 people on Thursday morning, including seven American troops and four Afghans, the NATO military coalition said. A Taliban spokesman claimed the insurgents shot down the aircraft.