Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras –
Airmen with the 612th Air Base Squadron traveled to the Children of Love Foundation Orphanage, April 25, 2021, and delivered donations to the 18 orphans who call the sanctuary home in La Paz, Honduras.
Most units on base have a local orphanage they sponsor, but for Airmen with the 612th ABS, this visit marks the second time they’ve visited their newly sponsored orphanage.
"This particular orphanage is one my Lieutenant, back at Davis-Monthan [Air Force Base, Arizona], told me about since her and her family come to visit an orphanage, every year,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Duane Reid, director of operations with the 612th ABS. “So when I got orders to go here, she told me about the orphanage in La Paz and I reached out to them to see if they already had a sponsorship - they did not.”
Units then go through the chapel on base that vets each orphanage to ensure the integrity of their operations. Once approved, the units are cleared to sponsor their orphanage of choice.
“It’s all about trying to be a part of the community,” said Reid. “We want to reach out because we understand that the area we’re in is a very poor area and we want to give back where we can.”
With help from the U.S., children at the orphanage received donations of clothing, shoes, underwear, and towels in their own backpack, as well as toys, soap, toothpaste, and school supplies that were delivered in large boxes.
“Most of the donations came from the 355th Operations Support Squadron, Davis-Monthan AFB,” said Reid. “The other ones, we took donations from the squadron and went to Tegucigalpa and bought them.”
The Children of Love Foundation Orphanage has been running for 28 years, feeding and clothing the children who live there with most of the donations coming from the U.S.
“This gives our members opportunities to see and be grateful for the stuff that they have,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Chelsea Johnson, NCO in charge of personnel programs with the 612th ABS. “These opportunities provide insight on the things that we may take for granted and create a relationship of gratefulness between us and other nations.”
During the visit, no words or translations were needed to know how grateful the children were for the Airmen's visit.
“Sometimes I just want to sit back and enjoy the moment - enjoy other people being grateful for something that you did,” said Johnson. “They didn’t even have to say ‘Thank you,’ you could see it in every expression they make, and when they’re playing with the stuff you gave them.”
Even with the donation of new clothes and basic necessities, the opportunity to have visitors made the biggest impact on the children, as well as those who take care of them every day.
“Sometimes they cry after they leave because they have that feeling of being so happy,” said Martha Sara, the administrator at the Children of Love Foundation Orphanage. “These children need to see love and they need to feel the love, not just from us that work here, but also from visitors and from people around the community.”