DILI, Timor-Leste - In an effort to build community relations and improve the local environment in Dili, Timor-Leste, participants from Pacific Partnership 2014 conducted a beach clean up with local environmental youth groups June 14.
Local youth, embassy officials, and service members from Timor-Leste, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States walked together along a stretch of city beach in Dili straightening things up to promote community and a clean environment.
According to U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Howlett, assigned the 84th Civil Affairs Battalion and event coordinator, it's not just about a clean beach, but also enhancing relationships.
"Events like these bring everyone a little closer together," said Howlett. "It shows that there are all kinds of people who care about environmental stewardship and will offer assistance, and we enjoy getting to do this in partnership with local youth who also care about the issue."
Naza Santos, 19 and a native of Dili, is a testament to that example.
"I don't think people here are really concerned about the environment as much as they should be," said Santos. "It was kind of inspiring to see all these foreign people out here helping our community."
As the crowd grew larger with people who were just passing by, participants felt a sense of professional and personal accomplishment.
"It was very moving and rewarding to be out here, especially when all the little kids started joining in," said Australian Air Force Leading Aircraftswoman Teagan Walker. "The best part was having all the nations come together to help out."
Pacific Partnership is in its ninth iteration and is the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Asia-Pacific region.