Pacific Partnership Reaches Out to Orphanage in Timor-Leste
DILI, Timor-Leste - Crewmembers from the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) conducted a community service event (COMSERV) at an orphanage here Aug. 14 in support of Pacific Partnership 2010.
Approximately 25 crewmembers from Mercy conducted the COMSERV at the Don Bosco Oratorio Balide orphanage with nearly 100 children, playing soccer, coloring pictures, singing, dancing, and socializing with each other.
COMSERVs offer participants experiences that add value to the primary focus of Pacific Partnership 2010, namely providing medical and construction assistance while helping all involved develop skills and relationships that will make them better prepared to respond in the event of a natural disaster in the future.
“I believe COMSERVs truly bring the whole mission together,” said Religious Programs Specialist 1st Class Jennifer Snow, assistant COMSERV coordinator. “We are all working hand- -in-hand to make a difference in people’s lives not only in the countries we are visiting, but also from within ourselves.”
Snow works with Mercy’s chaplain staff to welcome all shipboard volunteers to the events, organizes the distribution of charitable donations, and supports all COMSERV planning, giving her a unique perspective of the event’s impact on participants.
“It is amazing to see both the children and crewmembers,” said Snow. “I have had the privilege of participating in every COMSERV during Pacific Partnership 2010. What I notice most is that every event is different, but despite the language barriers, crewmembers and children are still able to communicate. Laughter and a smile seem to be a universal language.”
Several local Timorese musicians were on hand to perform popular songs for all in attendance. Children and adults of all ages spent several hours interacting, creating positive impressions, and cultivating camaraderie according to one Sailor.
“My experience today has been awesome,” said Electronics Technician 1st Class Robert Ramirez. “I played a few games of checkers, met several interesting people, and colored in coloring books with some of the kids.”
He added, “I’m going to take away the joy, happiness, and smiles we shared during this experience.”
Pacific Partnership 2010 is the fifth in a series of annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance endeavors aimed at strengthening regional partnerships among U.S. government organizations, partner nations, and international humanitarian and relief organizations.