MCAT 205 Celebrates Jamhuri Day
The Maritime Civil Affairs Team 205 was invited to participate in the Kenyan Independence Day Celebration in Lamu, Kenya, December 12.
Known as Jamhuri Day, the celebration marked the 48th anniversary of the country's independence from Great Britain.
"It's a very diverse, but close-knit community," said U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Matthew White, MCAT 205 team chief. "They are eager to share their culture with us."
The close working relationship forged between the citizens of Lamu and the MCAT 205 team allowed cultural integration throughout Jamhuri Day and the banquet that followed. The team discussed current successes in the region, such as improving coastal security capacity, providing desks to schools and ensuring villages have potable drinking water, as well as looking to the future. One result of MCAT 205's operations is the strengthened relationship between the team and the people of Lamu, White said.
Honorable Steven Ikua, District Commissioner of Lamu, invited MCAT 205 members to the Jamhuri Day celebration. The team watched local dancers, acrobats and martial artists perform to honor Kenyan independence. Sharing this cultural tradition reminded U.S. Navy Lieutenant Jason Holbrook, MCAT 205 mission commander, of the training he received prior to coming to Kenya.
"We were given specialized training to understand cultural sensitivities," Holbrook said. "The training was spot-on because it dealt with putting community relations ahead of the individual."
Holbrook said promoting the "3-D" approach of defense, diplomacy and development is heavily reliant on brokering trust with the local communities. Everyone in a village often knows one another, so introducing new people into their daily lives can be a different experience for all parties, he said.
"The 3-D approach really helped us with the cultural sensitivities of the region," Holbrook said. "It's allowed us to work better with the community and help work toward solutions for the challenges they face."
The celebration was an event the team will cherish for years to come, as a reminder of the strong bond forged with the community, White said.
"Seeing their reactions has been an amazing experience," White said. "It was satisfying to see the improvements made during our time there."