Visiting Swazi orhpans

United States Army Africa

U.S. service members visit Swazi orphanage

By Staff Sgt. Lesley Waters
CJTF-HOA Public Affairs

MOTJANE, Swaziland – During the MEDFLAG 09 exercise, U.S. troops worked long hours to support several medical, dental and veterinary operations in Swazi villages.

Some Americans want to do more.
One afternoon, the Americans had an opportunity to visit children at the Emmanuel Khayalethu Orphanage, offering what they could to the 65 children living there. They brought a lot more than just themselves.

The American troops donated 6,200 South African Rand (about $800) worth of food and toys to children, ranging in age of one to 15 years old.

During MEDFLAG 09, teams of U.S. service members partnered with Swazi military personnel and civilians to offer medical, dental and veterinary care in Swazi communities. They also offered classes on first responder familiarization, disaster relief, preventive medicine and tropical medicine.

During the delivery to the orphanage, they took time to visit with the children.

“This has been the most rewarding part of my time in Swaziland,” said U.S. Marine Cpl. David Johnson, a field radio operator with the 8th Communications Battalion. “Our spending time with them, even for a few hours, shows the children someone does care about them and that they are not alone. The toys are great, but the personal attention is what they really enjoyed.”

For several hours, 10 U.S. service members played soccer, rocked babies, held hands with toddlers, rolled toys trucks back a forth, combed little doll’s hair and gave piggyback rides to the children.

“What you have done here today is one of the most important things you could have done for the children,” said Hixonia Nxumalo, Emmanuel Khayalethu Orphanage coordinator. “Nearly all of these orphans have had nothing but bad horrific experiences in the young lives. The time and love you have shared with them will stay with them the rest of their lives.”

Cleared for public release.

Photos by Air Force Staff Sgt. Lesley Waters. CJTF-HOA Public Affairs

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