U.S. Troops Deliver School Supplies to Refugees
Service members from Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) delivered school supplies to children at a refugee camp in Djibouti on December 6, 2008. The eleven boxes of school supplies were donated by American school children and their families.
"Every chaplain here receives donations from back home. We have a storage closet where all the donations are stored and later distributed," said Captain Owen Vazquez, a Second Battalion, 18th Field Artillery Regiment chaplain, currently assigned to CJTF-HOA.
Approximately 1,250 students attend Wadajir Primary school at the Ali-Adde Refugee Camp, located outside of Ali'Sabieh and close to the border of Ethiopia. The school teaches first to seventh grade with 17 official teachers and three volunteers.
"I told them: 'The supplies are made possible through the generous donations of many families in the United States. Those families sent those supplies because they believe in your education. As you study all the different disciplines, may you learn the most important lesson of all, to never stop learning,'" the chaplain said.
According to Vazquez, CJTF-HOA is about building partnerships and supporting development initiatives in an effort to promote regional security. He said that helping the refugee camp will generate positive dividends over time.
"Poverty and substandard living are breeding grounds for discontent and extremism," he said. "By helping the many refugees in Djibouti we'll be doing a great work of service, helping our fellow men and improving our security and influence in Africa."
Students and teachers expressed appreciation for the efforts of those who donated and delivered the supplies.
"I'm very thankful for your effort to supply us with school materials," said Professor Farah Osman Gouled, the school head-master. "The students are eager to learn, but they don't have much."
For more information on donating school supplies, clothing or personal hygiene items e-mail CampLemonierChaplain@hoa.usafricom.mil