COMAYAGUA, Honduras, –
Members of Joint Task Force-Bravo's Medical Element (MEDEL) provided some bliss for local children during an orphanage visit in Comayagua, Honduras March 22, 2014.
More than 25 members made the trip to the Hogar de Niños, Nazareth girls orphanage where they spent a Saturday afternoon visiting with more than 50 children. They braided the girl's hair, painted their fingernails, played soccer, read books, and drew pictures with the kids.
"It just warms my heart because they are always so glad to see you," said U.S. Army Capt. Taniqueka Harvey. "We not only bring them companionship but we also bring them the bare necessities like shampoo, toothpaste and clothes. The spirit of giving is always there."
During the visit, the MEDEL members gave away shampoo, toothbrushes, rings, toys, soccer balls and candy. Everything was paid for with donations from MEDEL members.
MEDEL staff also met with the director of the Hogar de Niños, Nazareth orphanage to discuss a major problem that exists. The current water system at the orphanage depends on chlorine tablets to purify the water to make it consumable but they are running out of the chemical.
"We've identified a need that the orphanage requires more chlorine tablets and we hope to also provide them some training on how to better treat and monitor the system," said U. S. Army Maj. Dan Gardner who is the orphanage coordinator for MEDEL.
The children and service members both benefit greatly from these monthly visits and it is considered a win-win situation.
"The girls benefit from the things we bring, the support and time we spend with them by playing and teaching them things," said Gardner. "The soldiers and airmen benefit because of the morale boost it provides. We always have to check the bus before we leave because they want to bring the kids back with them."
JTF-Bravo service members regularly participate in numerous community engagements within Honduras; providing support to orphanages and local villages. JTF-Bravo personnel have supported more than 2,000 children at seven different orphanages in the Comayagua valley since the 1997, spending time interacting with the children, donating much-needed supplies, and doing construction work on the buildings in which the children live.