CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti (Sept. 4, 2012) -- Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa Soldiers, forward-deployed to Ethiopia, delivered care packages to a local orphanage, Sept. 2, 2012.
St. Augustine's, a 100-year-old, Catholic, all-girls orphanage in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia, has been the recipient of dozens of boxes of personal care items since February, when the 3rd Squadron, 124th Cavalry Regiment, Texas Army National Guard unit arrived to support the CJTF-HOA mission.
"Nine boxes of hygiene items went to the orphanage Sunday," said U.S. Army Capt. Brett Anderson, 3-124th CAV chaplain.
The need for personal hygiene items has increased in recent months, according to Anderson.
"Ethiopia has had more rain than usual and even flooding in some areas," Anderson said. "These supplies have become a lot more expensive to come by. The girls learn to live with very little; but having soap, shampoo and toothpaste certainly improves their quality of life."
Fortunately, there are many organizations willing to deliver.
"We had a group from the Highway 2 Heaven Biker Church in Gatesville, Texas, ask about how they could help people here," Anderson said. "We suggested the orphanage as we spend a lot of time there and knew they needed certain things."
Since then, the church group has sent more than 20 boxes for the orphanage, as boxes continue to arrive from other sources.
Next to high-demand, personal care items, CJTF-HOA service members have lent their professional skills around the orphanage.
"A lot of the needs of the orphanage were only for help with construction projects," Anderson said. "The [Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 3] Seabees built more showers."
"The Seabees installed five showerheads and the electrics for a water pump," said 1st Lt. Jose Muñoz, 3-124th CAV force protection officer in charge at Camp Gilbert. "The orphanage only had one shower which was previously a toilet."
Soldiers and sailors continue to visit the orphanage on a twice-weekly basis to spend time with the residents, lend a hand, or deliver boxes.