By Staff Sgt. Kathrine McDowell, CJTF-HOASeptember 27, 2010
DJIBOUTI, Sep 27, 2010 - Men and women of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa and Camp Lemonnier came together with a surprise of new shoes for the children of the National Center for the Protection of Juvenile Boys September 16, 2010. The idea for the drop came from the camp's Community Assistance Volunteers (CAV).
"There is a constant need for clothing and shoes," said Electronic Technician 1st Class David Corbin, CAV acting president. "If you look around the community there are always children running around without shoes. What shoes they did have seemed dear to them, almost priceless."
Once the team arrived, the children wanted only to meet the visitors and ask for a game of soccer.
"They had no idea that we were there to deliver shoes," said Lieutenant Commander Colleen Ignacio, CAV Senior Advisor. "They just wanted to enjoy us and spend time with us on the soccer field."
As teams were chosen in the middle of the orphanage sandlot, each comprised of servicemembers and Djiboutian youth, the differences between the children and the adults became more apparent.
It wasn't the difference in age, height or language that was the most noticeable when the teams filed out to their positions on the sandlot. It was the clothing. Most of the residents played soccer barefoot.
"It was a touching and humbling experience," said Ignacio. She explained that not only were the boys much better at soccer, but that being barefoot also didn't slow them down. It helped her see the importance of the things many would take for granted.
"Small things can make a big difference," said Ignacio. "The work we do here is important. It effects human lives by providing hope and helps them build a better future."
Even though this first donation came from the servicemembers assigned to the base, the CAV will be receiving donations from stateside organizations and hopes to continue to do so through the end of the year.
According to ET1 Corbin, more orphanage residents will come back to Djibouti after the hot season, May through September, is over. This shoe drop was not the last.
"Again, there is a constant need," he said. "As long as we keep receiving shoe donations, we will continue to distribute them."