SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras –
Members of Joint Task Force-Bravo's Joint Security Forces paid a visit to local organization "Fundación CasAyuda" Feb. 20, to share some joy with the kids there.
More than 30 JSF members spent the morning handing out gifts and school supplies to the kids at CasAyuda.
"The JSF members are our angels," said Ms. Nelly Zelaya, Executive director and founder of Fundación CasAyuda. "The kids look forward to spending time with them; their sole presence is great therapy for our kids."
In addition to the shoes, toys, clothes donated by the JSF members, the kids also received soccer balls and jerseys from the non-profit organization "Kick for Nick", which honors the memory of fallen U.S. Army Pfc. Nick Madaras, who was killed in Iraq in 2006.
JSF members spent the morning playing soccer, communicating in sign language and handing out the presents they had brought.
"It's a beautiful experience," said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Nidza Crespo, Training Non Commissioned Officer for JSF. "They're very sweet and grateful for everything we do with them."
CasAyuda supports almost 100 children from different ages and with different mental and physical disabilities. Their Integral Formation Center (CFI in Spanish), CasAyuda's first project, helps them develop sign language skills as well as cater to their specific mental or physical needs.
CasAyuda's second project, Foster Care for Deaf Children, assists children from Comayagua and other departments. These 25 children are in foster care from Monday through Friday and every weekend go home to their parents, because they cannot afford education or daily transportation for them.
This program is sponsored through the community and various churches' involvement and donations such as medicine, food items and cleaning supplies. The Joint Security Forces has been supporting these children since 2001.
"Everything is voluntary," said U.S. Army Spc. Maria Rios, Supply Office Non-Commissioned officer in charge and liaison between CasAyuda and JSF. "We send the troops an invite and they cooperate by buying food, clothes, shoes, toys and school supplies for the kids."
Rios and Crespo believe that "sharing with these kids and learning from them as much as they learn from us" is very rewarding.
"CasAyuda's anniversary is coming up and we want to celebrate with them," said Rios.
Fundación CasAyuda is a support center for the mentally and physically disabled children, founded in 1999, as a private non-profit organization in Comayagua, Honduras. CasAyuda's mission is to develop projects and programs oriented to improve the living conditions of mentally and physically disabled children. The organization helps the disabled and less fortunate children to become independent and to adapt to the society by developing mental and physical abilities, by learning how to turn their weakness into strengths and by learning moral principles and spiritual values to overcome their impair and to increase self-esteem.