By Staff Sgt. Lance PoundsMarch 30, 2017
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia - On Mar. 11, a landslide at the Koshe landfill, on the outskirts of the Ethiopian capital, claimed the lives of 115 people. The site, a home to many locals, has been a dumping ground for more than 50 years.
Just days later, Larry Robinson, U.S. Army Africa anti-terrorism and force protection division chief, donated more than 400 articles of children's clothing to the survivors.
Robinson, who traveled to Ethiopia from Vicenza, Italy, to set up for the USARAF-led exercise Justified Accord 17, said he always brings something to donate when he travels.
JA17, which took place March 20-24, is an annual multilateral exercise focused on bringing together personnel from the United States, partner nations and international organizations to promote interoperability through collaboration for peacekeeping operations in the East African region.
In addition to setting up for the weeklong exercise, Robinson searched for a local organization to which he could donate a suitcase full of new and gently used clothes, shoes and blankets that he and his family members had collected.
Robinson contacted Dehab Negash, a local volunteer and the owner of a travel agency, who escorted him to a local United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund collection site. There, Robinson met local officials, who accepted his donation.
"It's a good feeling to make the life of someone who is suffering better," Robinson said.
As a 30-year military veteran and a member of USARAF, Robinson has traveled to many different places and views each trip as an opportunity to give back to those less fortunate.
Robinson said his family did not have much monetarily, but that had little effect on his parent's generosity. He credits his passion for giving back to his parents' teachings, which he has passed on to his children.
"I'm constantly donating to veterans organizations, orphanages and the homeless," he said. "My parents taught me that God blesses those who bless others."
Robinson said that of the people he has encountered in his travels, those on the African continent appear especially appreciative for their belongings.
"I am always amazed by the local people," he said. "They may not have a lot, but they are happy with what they have ... We could all learn a thing or two from (them)."