NEWS | May 19, 2008

612th ABS hosts children from local orphanage at Soto Cano

By Tech. Sgt. John Asselin Joint Task Force-Bravo public affairs

The 612th Air Base Squadron hosted an Orphanage Kids' Day here May 18, complete with games, swimming, lunch and piñatas.

About 40 volunteers from the squadron came out to make sure children from the Hogar de Guadalupe Orphanage in El Conejo, Honduras, had a carefree-day of fun and activities.

"Every year we try to get the kids from our orphanage [sponsored by 612th ABS] down here to enjoy a day on base," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Erick Ruiz Herrera, coordinator for the event. They enjoy it greatly, and it is awesome to see a smile on their faces. Spending time with the kids is great, and watching everyone come together and interact with the kids is just awesome."

Sergeant Ruiz Herrera said the visit to the base is a unique experience for the children, who often only experience things necessary for survival.

"For them, going to a pool or even breaking a piñata comes too seldom," he said. "They sometimes can't even afford to have the necessary toiletries. The organization in charge of the orphanage spends more than three million Lempiras [$158,000] every month in just the day-to-day expenditures. Any extras are just not possible, so we try to give the kids, single moms and teachers a day to just relax and have fun."

Coming out to volunteer or just play with the kids has its benefits for Joint Task Force-Bravo troops as well.

"I feel it is important to show these children that we care about them," said Air Force Master Sgt. Jon Callaway, 612th ABS logistics flight superintendent. "If I can put a smile on at least one of their faces, it makes me feel like I am making a difference. It was a long day in the sun, but worth every minute!"

"Some might think that giving one of those kids a hug is nothing, but when those kids give you that ear to ear smile, it is more than worth it," Sergeant Ruiz Herrera added. "When we help out the kids who have little to nothing, we are seen for what we really are: a group of U.S. military members trying to help out those less fortunate. It helps strengthen the desire for the community to not give up hope."