ZAMBOANGA, Philippines – Sailors
from USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49), USS Jarrett (FFG 33) and USS Ford (FFG
54) participated in a friendship-building project at a local orphanage
May 31, at the official start of the Philippine phase of Cooperation
Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT).
CARAT, which involves more than 1,300 service members, is meant to
build relationships and enhance the operational readiness of the
United States and six Southeast Asia nations.
The orphanage project was conducted at the Reception and Study Center
for Children, located on the outskirts of Zamboanga City.
As part of the project, the Sailors helped distribute donated food and
supplies to the orphanage as well as spent time with the children,
time that according to the staff there was much needed.
“These kids were so happy to be held by us, it was amazing,” said
Quartermaster 3rd Class Nicole Wecker, with the Harpers Ferry. “They
all had such great personalities. I didn’t want to leave.”
After a brief welcome ceremony and dance recital performed by the
orphans, the Sailors spent their time visiting the smaller children
aged 1 to 2 first. In a room full of cribs and eager young Filipino
children, the Sailors took turns holding and playing with these young
ones, giving them the attention they wanted.
After the toddlers, the group moved outside to play with 5- to 10-year
olds. The Sailors brought basketballs, volleyballs and soccer balls
for the kids to play with.
“The balls were a great way for us to interact with the kids,” said
Boatswain Mate 1st Class Roy Delosreyes, with the Harpers Ferry. “I
was having so much fun that next thing I knew it was time to go
USS Harpers Ferry, USS Ford, and USS Jarrett are currently
participating in CARAT 2007. CARAT is an annual series of bilateral
maritime training exercises between the United States and six
Southeast Asia nations to build relationships and enhance the
operational readiness of the participating forces. Harpers Ferry is
serving as the flagship for CARAT 2007 with Commander Destroyer
Squadron 1 (DESRON 1) embarked onboard.