SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras, –
More than 80 Joint Task Force-Bravo personnel celebrated the Chapel's 50th humanitarian hike, by trekking more than seven miles up a steep mountain road near Comayagua to deliver goods to people living in a remote village, Aug 24.
The Chapel Hike has been a tradition at Joint Task Force-Bravo since 2007, where volunteers carry food, supplies, toys and other provisions to remote villagers.
"We had our 50th Chapel Hike and we specifically visited a school called Jose Cecilio del Valle, which we designated to be the meeting place for the larger community living on the mountain Aldea Bella Vista," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Asa Chung, the JTF-Bravo command chaplain. "What made this hike so special is we worked in conjunction with the school and community leaders. By working with them we were able to reach more than 100 families."
The hikers would meet at the base chapel at 6:30 a.m., where they loaded their back packs with groceries weighing more than 30 pounds.
"The hike was pretty intense, especially when you're carrying 30 pound sacks of food and additional supplies on your back," said U.S. Army Sgt. Robert Burns, JTF-Bravo's chaplain assistant. "We were told it was a 45 degree incline, but I have my doubts as there were parts I could put my hands on the ground and I would still be standing up, so it was definitely grueling."
At 8 a.m. the volunteers began their hike up the more than 5,000 foot mountain, as they reached the peak they were greeted by the villagers and children holding exotic flowers.
"The kids came up to us and gave us tropical flowers," said Burns. "It was the best way they could say thank you... To see people that are poverty stricken and yet still wanting to give us something, when they have nothing. For me it was a huge effort and it meant a lot that they were willing to do that and show that kind of gratitude."
The volunteers donated more than $1,000 worth of supplies to the villagers.
"If you want to have the hike of your life...and engage in some serious humanitarian effort come and be a part of this," said Chung. "You will change through this experience and your eyes will be open to a bigger world. You will realize life is so much larger than what you thought. We should be very thankful for what we have and where we are at."