NEWS | July 22, 2008

JTF-Bravo unit, IAAFA volunteer at local orphanage

By Staff Sgt. Joel Mease Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

More than 40 volunteers from Joint Task Force-Bravo, the 1-228th Aviation Regiment and the Inter-American Air Force Academy NCO Course visited a local orphanage July 19 to spend time with the children and have a cookout.

The original plan of events for the day was to play some games with the children, have a cookout and plant corn in the field next to the orphanage so the organization could have a self-sustaining crop every year. However, the weather didn't cooperate, so plans to help plant corn are currently delayed, said Army Staff Sgt. Jeff Feliciano, 1-228 NCOIC Aviation Medicine.

The sponsorship of the orphanage has so far been a major success for both the orphanage and the 1-228, said Army Command Sgt. Major Carlos Escalera, 1-228.

"The kids here have a real need, and it's a great opportunity for us to come out and help," said Sergeant Major Escalera. "This is the second time I have come here, and each time you can tell just how appreciative they are that you came. I plan on coming here as often as I can."

According to Sergeant Feliciano, the sponsorship of the San Antonio Orphanage has been extremely beneficial for those in the 1-228 as well.

"It helps give our guys a sense of purpose to have this opportunity to have a cross-cultural interaction between the Army and Honduran population," Sergeant Feliciano said. "It also allows us in a sense to create an American fraternity with our neighbors."

While the 1-228 is the primary sponsor of the orphanage, it was too great of an opportunity to turn down for members of the IAAFA NCO course, said Chilean Air Force Sergeant Luis Gomez.

"Its an honor for me and my classmates to help the children out," Sergeant Gomez said. "In my country there are many children just like the ones here, so I know how important it is for these kids to be shown love and have the company of those who care about them. Its not just important to them but for us as well."

The San Antonio Orphanage of La Paz has approximately 50 children and is sponsored by the 1-228th. The NCOs attending the IAAFA course represented nine different countries from the Americas, Sergeant Feliciano said.