By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Amanda S. Kitchner, PHIBRON 11 Public Affairs
MANILA, Philippines — Sailors assigned to the forward-deployed amphibious dock landing ship USS Tortuga (LSD 46) visited a local orphanage today, April 4.
House of the Heroes is a non-profit organization that houses children found by government officials and provides them with shelter, basic necessities, education and even medical care.
“Seeing this part of the Philippines was an eye-opening experience,” said Cryptologic Technician (Technical) Seaman Kelsey Seitz. “But seeing how these children take what life gives them and continue on was so inspiring.”
The orphanage houses 14 children ranging from seven to 16 years of age. The children are given a chance to live in a family that they may not have had otherwise.
“This being my first community relations project, I didn’t know what to expect,” said Seitz. “I definitely thought the children would be more shy, but I was pleasantly surprised by how excited the children were to play with all of us.”
While visiting, Sailors were given an opportunity to play games, tell stories, and make art with the children.
“I wish that would have been able to stay longer,” said Religious Programs Specialist 3rd Class Bryant Fossier. “It was great to sing and play with the kids, I had an amazing time.”
This was the Tortuga’s first time visiting House of the Heroes, but community relations (COMREL) projects such as these are always available for Sailors to participate in any port.
“Events like this are a great way to engage the local culture, step outside of what is socially comfortable and extend your ability to serve in a meaningful way,” said Lt. Adrienne Townsend, Tortuga’s Chaplain and coordinator for this event. “It is an honor to represent our nation in this manner. The places we visit give to us just as much as we give to them.”