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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Joint Task Force Showers Orphans With Supplies and Smiles

African babies, patients receive clothing, crutches, companionship.

By Petty Officer 1st Class Mary Popejoy
Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa Public Affairs
.

DJIBOUTI CITY, Djibouti, May 17, 2007 — An Army general and personnel from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa visited a local baby orphanage and hospital in Djibouti City, May 5, 2007, to donate 28 boxes of baby clothes and hospital equipment.

At the orphanage, Army Brig. Gen. Keith Thurgood, 337th Theater Support Command deputy commanding general, and the other military personnel held, fed and played with the 50 babies who live there.

The babies enjoy the attention, the nurses appreciate the help, and the HOA personnel enjoy being able to provide some tender loving care to even the littlest people of Djibouti.

“This is a great opportunity for us to take a break from our daily commitments and give a little bit of ourselves to the babies of the orphanage, whether it’s feeding, holding or simply making the little ones smile,” said CJTF-HOA Command Chief Master Sgt. John Harris.

And it’s the smiles on their small faces that keep Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Rivera proud to be a part of this mission.

“These children are great and they really enjoy it when we come by and spend some time with them,” he said. “They may not be able to tell us how grateful they are, but the smiles on their faces say it for them.”

According to Army Brig. Gen. Sanford Holman, CJTF-HOA deputy commander, the future impact of this small gesture could be enormous.

“The future of Djibouti is right in my arms,” he said. “How well we take care of Djibouti and its neighbors today will determine the future of this area.

“In 10-20 years, this gesture and the ones to follow will be remembered and they will know the U.S. cares about what happens to them,” said Holman.

And even though 10-20 years is a long way off, the caregivers at the orphanage are grateful today for the outpouring of generosity the U.S. military continues to show the orphanage.

“We are very thankful to the U.S. military for the amount of clothes they brought with them today,” said Delphine Cey, French nurse at the orphanage. “With so many children, we go through a lot of clothes, so it’s better to have too many clothes than not enough.”

Donating clothes to the orphanage wasn’t the only good deed of the day, the military members also donated some much-needed supplies to a local hospital. Some of the items donated were walkers, crutches and chair commodes.

“These items will help sustain their hospital and give patients exactly what they need to get back on their feet after an illness or injury,” said Army Master Sgt. Ethan Hughes, 377 Theater Security Cooperation’s Humanitarian Assistance Coordination Center.

According to Army Lt. Col. Paul VanBreemen, Bravo Company, 489th Civil Affairs, the best part about doing good deeds is the message it sends to the community at large.

“Today we made a positive impact on the baby orphanage and hospital, but our gesture will soon spread throughout this community reminding the Djiboutians that as a military force we are doing positive things for this area,” he said. “Every donation we do, big or small, is one step closer to helping Africans help Africa.”

Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa is a unit of United States Central Command. The organization conducts operations and training to assist partner nations to combat terrorism in order to establish a secure environment and enable regional stability. More than 1,800 people from each branch of the U.S. military, civilian employees, Coalition forces and partner nations make up the CJTF-HOA organization. The area of responsibility for CJTF-HOA includes the countries of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

Photo Caption: U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Rivera, Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa, has his hands full during a visit to a Djiboutian orphanage, May 5, 2007. Several military members brought boxes of clothing and medical equipment to the orphans. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Carrie Bernard.

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