U.S. Southern Command, FOL Manta Airmen assist daycare center Published March 16, 2009 By 1st Lt. Beth Woodward 478th Expeditionary Operations Squadron Public Affairs FORWARD OPERATING LOCATION MANTA, Ecuador -- Servicemembers from Forward Operating Location Manta and the military group of the U.S. Embassy in Quito donated $6,000 in materials to a daycare center in Colón, Ecuador March 13. Over 40 children under the care of the Colón facility will now benefit from a refrigerator, bedding, storage cabinets and windows supplied through the U.S. Southern Command Humanitarian Assistance Program. "We are so thankful. The help of the FOL has made a difference," said Tatiana Picó, a caregiver to the center's six-month to one-year-old children. In a community where resources are often limited, the new refrigerator will allow them to store food, and cribs and mattresses will provide an improved place for children to sleep. This donation is one of five local initiatives in the past year coordinated through HAP, a U.S. Southern Command program managed in Ecuador by members of the military group at the U.S. Embassy in Quito. HAP emphasizes infrastructure development and is geared toward building stability and security in local communities. "We saw a need in this community and hope the impact of this project will affect children in Colón long after the FOL transitions from Manta," said Lt. Col. Jared Curtis, 478th Expeditionary Operations Squadron commander at FOL Manta. Other HAP projects initiated by the FOL include resurfacing a courtyard and building a roof for Angelica Flores, a special needs school; donating an electrical transformer to OSCUS, a vocational school; and rebuilding two burn center rooms within Zambrano Hospital, Manta's only public hospital. In addition to HAP, FOL volunteers donated over 9,000 hours to bring 180,000 items, including clothing, school supplies and toiletries, to local organizations in 2008. Over 1,200 kilograms of food and 2 million packets of vitamins were also distributed last year with the help of FOL volunteers.