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U.S. Navy Sailors Inspire Children at Orphanage in Philippines

23 January 2024

From Petty Officer 2nd Class Tristan Cookson

Sailors from the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110) participated in a community relations (COMREL) project at a local orphanage in Quezon City, Philippines, Jan. 13.

Lt. j.g. Nafetalai Teaupa, from Kailua Kona, Hawaii, assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110), celebrates winning a board game with a child from Gentle Hands Orphanage during a community relations event in Manila, Philippines.
MANILA, Philippines (Jan. 13, 2024) Lt. j.g. Nafetalai Teaupa, from Kailua Kona, Hawaii, assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110), celebrates winning a board game with a child from Gentle Hands Orphanage during a community relations event in Manila, Philippines. William P. Lawrence is in the Philippines for a scheduled port visit, supporting operational readiness and regional partnerships. William P. Lawrence is assigned to Carrier Strike Group ONE and deployed to U.S. 7th Fleet’s area of operations in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tristan Cookson)
Lt. j.g. Nafetalai Teaupa, from Kailua Kona, Hawaii, assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110), celebrates winning a board game with a child from Gentle Hands Orphanage during a community relations event in Manila, Philippines.
240113-N-CD319-1115
MANILA, Philippines (Jan. 13, 2024) Lt. j.g. Nafetalai Teaupa, from Kailua Kona, Hawaii, assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110), celebrates winning a board game with a child from Gentle Hands Orphanage during a community relations event in Manila, Philippines. William P. Lawrence is in the Philippines for a scheduled port visit, supporting operational readiness and regional partnerships. William P. Lawrence is assigned to Carrier Strike Group ONE and deployed to U.S. 7th Fleet’s area of operations in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tristan Cookson)
Photo By: Petty Officer 2nd Class Tristan Cookson
VIRIN: 240113-N-CD319-1115


The 15 participating Sailors spent the day playing games, singing songs, and creating memories at Gentle Hands Home of Grace.

For many of these Sailors, this was their first opportunity to volunteer overseas. The event left quite an impression, according to Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Ashlee Almugla, from South Bend, Indiana.

“I love being around kids that are so happy and energetic; it takes me away from everything else that we deal with,” said Almugla. “This is one of the things that makes me say, ‘This is why I joined.’”

For other volunteers, such as Fire Controlman 3rd Class Kevin Cardea, from West Covina, California, events like these can be a rejuvenating experience.

“Being in the position to help someone other than myself is cleansing for the soul,” said Cardea. “Not only was this impactful to serving the community, it was impactful to the individuals that we were able to give one-on-one attention with.”

Once lunch and games were finished, the Sailors and kids joined in songs and dances before saying their final goodbyes.

“For anyone who hasn’t volunteered for a COMREL, I absolutely think they should,” said Almugla. “It’s very humbling and it shows that it’s possible to be happy in this world, regardless of what you may or may not have.”

Gentle Hands was founded 30 years ago by Denie Heppner as a Non-Government Organization. The organization’s goal is to create a safe and loving environment in which the children entrusted to their care are able to be in a safe place of healing, and learn what it means to be loved, and to have their rights respected.

“This visit means so much because it’s so rare to have volunteers be as involved as the Sailors are,” said Sarah Jane, arts and recreation coordinator for Gentle Hands. “The kids love the challenge of keeping up physically with the Sailors.”

William P. Lawrence, assigned to Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 1, was in the Philippines for a scheduled port visit, supporting operational readiness and regional partnerships. CSG-1 is currently deployed to U.S. 7th Fleet’s area of operations in support of free and open Indo-Pacific.

CSG-1 is a multiplatform team of ships and aircraft, capable of carrying out a wide variety of missions around the globe from combat missions to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief response.

U.S. 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed numbered fleet and routinely interacts and operates with allies and partners in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

For more news from CSG-1, visit http://www.dvidshub.net/unit/CSG1.

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