Engineering Aid 2nd Class Susan Knox holds a child at Saint Francis Notre Dame Orphanage in Djibouti, June 26, while troops donated shoes and toys to local orphans.
DJIBOUTI (July3, 2008) – Members from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa distributed shoes and toys to children June 28 at the Saint Francis of Notre Dame Orphanage.
Various good Samaritans and church groups donated the items, which Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 74, based out of Gulfport, Miss., and volunteers from Djibouti Masonic Outreach distributed to more than 40 children.
Construction Mechanic 2nd Class Ralph Manzie, assigned to NMCB 74 and a native of Bristol, Va., donated more than 50 pairs of flip-flops on behalf of his wife, Tessa, and their church, Gulf Coast Unitarian, in Gulfport, Miss.
“It’s pretty amazing,” said Manzie, as he played with several toddlers in the playroom. “It makes me smile because I made them smile.”
Manzie, who has two children of his own, Jim, 7, and Joe, 3, said it made him happy to help the children here, but also makes him miss his own. “It’s sad when I leave my kids for deployment,” he said, as nuns and other volunteer put the children to bed for an afternoon nap. “Then I come here and there are all these children with no parents.”
Engineering Aid 2nd Class Susan Knox, assigned to NMCB 74 and a Fayetteville, Texas, native, donated 30 pairs of shoes on behave of the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-day Saints.
“They are so happy to see us, and they don’t even know why we are here,” she said.
Knox said she was startled by the reaction by some of the children during the visit. She recounted the story of giving one little boy a toy frog. He was so excited and overwhelmed that it brought him to tears.
Djibouti Masonic Outreach, a volunteer based Masonic group made up of deployed military members and civilians organized the trip. “We are about helping people. We try lending a helping hand to not only this community, but the world,” said Utilitiesman 2nd Class Richardo Charles, an outreach member.
“I think it will make a big difference, even after we are long gone, as ambassadors to Djibouti,” said Desi Wade, the Djibouti Masonic Outreach president. He said with the success of this trip, he plans to organize more in the near future.