SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras –
Joint Task Force-Bravo, non-government organizations Clean the World, Bridge Ministries and Kick For Nick Foundation, the 21st Honduran Military Police Battalion, and the Honduran National Police formed a partnership to distribute soap kits, backpacks, tooth brushes and tooth paste, soccer balls and soccer uniforms to students at eight Tegucigalpa schools in a two-day event, May 20-21, 2014.
A total of eight schools were visited by the group distributing over 3,700 soap kits, over 600 backpacks with school supplies, 150 toothbrushes and tooth paste, more than 50 soccer balls and the United States Embassy of Honduras donated text books to two of the schools. Over 500 soap kits were given to people who worked at the Comayaguela Landfill as well.
One of the partnership's goals is to encourage better personal hygiene by giving soap kits which will aid in stopping the spread of diarrheal and acute lower respiratory-tract infections. Over 3.5 million children ages five and under die each year due to these diseases according to the World Health Report 2005 from the World Health Organization. But a study performed by the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, GA in 2005 found that with regular hand washing the occurrence of these diseases plummet by 50% in developing countries.
But another message conveyed to those who listened to the guest speakers was even though they may be in a bad situation it doesn't define who they are.
"I told the people who work in the landfill in the trash that sometimes we start to feel that we don't deserve anything else because we are in such dire need," said Trifilio Villela who works with the Bridge Ministries organization. "But they need to remember that God loves them and that He is interested in blessing them. Now with the children, they are in a different situation. I told them that the only way to get the right things in their lives is to let God lead them because He will never lead them wrong. They will gain values like respect and honesty which will improve them and through them it will improve their family, neighborhood and their situation."
The non-profit organization Kick for Nick provided the soccer balls and uniforms given to the schools. Kick for Nick's mission is to fulfill U.S. Army Pvt. Nick Madaras' dream of fostering goodwill and peace through the sport of soccer by collecting soccer balls and delivering them into the hands of children around the world. Madaras died while serving in Iraq in September 2006. U. S. Army Col. Thomas Boccardi, Joint Task Force-Bravo commander, holds a special place in his heart for this donation because he was a member of Madaras' unit.
"While home on leave from Iraq in July 2006, Nick rounded up as many soccer balls as possible to bring back to the children near his post. Being a passionate soccer player, he wanted to give the balls to the children as a gesture of good will. Unfortunately, Nick was killed by an improvised explosive device and was never able to distribute the balls himself. Instead we have taken up a cause on his behalf to fulfill his dream. We are spreading Nick's love of soccer and his dedication to the children all over the world."
As a way to honor the late Madaras and the Kick for Nick Foundation, the soccer team at the Ramon Calix Figueroa Basic Education Center donned their new uniforms and played a soccer game as the group and school cheered them on.
"As for today's donation, it is very, very close to my heart," said Boccardi. "The Kick for Nick Foundation provided us these soccer balls and complete team outfits as a small but very important message of love...love of soccer and love of family."
The eight schools visited were Carlos Flores Kindergarten, Loise Michell Kindergarten, Enma Romero de Callejas School, Francia School, Ramon Calix Figueroa Basic Education Center, Policarpo Bonilla School, Roberto Maradiaga School, and Hogar del Nino School.
Servicemembers at Joint Task Force-Bravo continuously engage in numerous community outreach activities within Honduras providing support to orphanages, schools, and local villages. In partnering with Clean the World and Give a Kid a Backpack Foundation NGO's more than 9,600 backpacks and more than 14,200 soap kits have been donated to poverty-stricken children in Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala.