Air Advisors, Honduran Airmen visit two Honduran schools
By Tech. Sgt. Lesley Waters, 615th Contingency Response Wing public affairs
/ Published February 22, 2012
TEGUCIGALPA , HONDURAS -- More than 20 Air Advisors from the Air Mobility Command's 571st Mobility Support Advisory Squadron and Airmen from the Honduran Air Force extended their building partner capacity mission to the community by visiting two Honduran schools Feb. 14 and 17.
The MSAS Airmen, based out of Travis AFB, Calif., have been working side-by-side with the Honduran Air Force for more than a month promoting regional stability by fostering key relationships and enhancing partner nation capabilities.
"By partnering with the Honduran Air Force we have learned about their culture and created enduring partnerships between individuals," said Lt. Col. Joseph Sanchez, 571 MSAS commander. "Building partnerships is more than skin deep when we take our uniforms off, roll up our sleeves and work together in a setting like this."
The Honduran and U.S. Airmen enhanced that partnership by distributing donated children's clothes, shoes, soccer balls, and jelly beans to more than 90 children at Instituto El Cordero, in Colonial Flor De Campo and Instituto Evangélico El Verbo, in Colonial Nueva Suyapa.
Instituto El Cordero, sponsored by Association for World Services, is a school for children of single mothers. Association for World Service is a non-profit non-governmental Christian organization, which contributes to the development of Honduras by providing child care through a variety of programs and community assistance to disadvantage people such as single mothers, elderly and disabled people. Instituto Evangélico El Verbo is sponsored by Stewardship of Christian Ministries, which is a non-governmental Christian organization that promotes development for some of the less fortunate families in Nueva Suyapa community.
"This was a surprise to have you (the Honduran and U.S. Air Force Airmen) come and visit us," said David Dominguez Santángelo, Instituto Evangélico El Verbo executive director. "We are grateful you all came and brought the donations for the children, but just having you come was more than enough."
Being able to work side-by-side with the Honduran Air Force Airmen and interact with the children was just another forum to exchange ideas and allow the children to see that Airmen are human after all.
"Events like this are extremely important, since they show we aren't just members of the armed services - but human beings who are able to show compassion," said Staff Sgt. Angel Ortega, 571 MSAS air transportation air advisor.
"By participating in an event put on by the Honduran Air Force, we helped them further their governance and the best part of the whole day was seeing the smiles on all of the children's faces," said Sanchez. "A smile is a smile and it doesn't matter what language you speak. If you can get a child to smile...well some might say that is worth all the money in the world."
Not only were smiles shining, but hugs were flying as the Airmen kicked the soccer ball around with the children.
"I haven't done charity work before, but once we began, it was one of the most moving experiences I've been part of," said Tech. Sgt. Aaron Carrillo, 571 MSAS air traffic controller air advisor. "I had a dozen or so children give me a hug to thank me - very uplifting."
During Friday's visit, those smiles continued shining and hugs flying after the donations were given and soccer balls put aside as the girls and boys were divided into two groups and had a chance at breaking a piñata filled with candy and confetti.
After the visits, both Airmen and children were left with a better appreciation and respect for each other. With only one week left on the BPC mission, the MSAS and Honduran Airmen will not only have the exchange of ideas within the work environment to remember, but the experiences from the two school visits also.
"The companies who donated the clothes, shoes and soccer balls were the enablers who allowed us to foster a cooperative environment in which we can work with the Honduran Air Force side-by-side...sharing friendships," said Sanchez.
"The relationship we have between the two air forces has been reinforced with the donations we received and handed out the past few days, said Elia Ramona Cruz de Landa, Honduran Air Force officer spouses' society president. "These donations have opened up other doors for the Honduran Air Force and officer spouse society to help the local communities."