Panama City, Panama - Sailors from the USS Decatur (DDG 73) spent a day volunteering at a local orphanage during the ship's recent visit to Panama City, Panama.
Nineteen Sailors from the San Diego, California-based destroyer assisted in repainting the interior and exterior of buildings at Ciudad del Nino, a non-profit orphanage.
"The event began by our Sailors being shown informational videos about the important work done at the orphanage in helping some 200 children," said Lt. Chad Hamilton, chaplain from Destroyer Squadron 21.
Hamilton, currently embarked onboard Decatur, helped coordinate the event.
Most of the Sailors went to work while the children gathered to listen to 3 native Spanish speaking Sailors speak about life aboard a ship and the different jobs performed. The children were captivated by this presentation and asked lots of questions.
"We broke the children into two groups - one 13 years old and up, and one of younger kids. I feel as though the kids were more at ease and more comfortable asking questions of us in Spanish," said Chief Electrician's Mate Ruben Jaramillo.
Leaders of the orphanage expressed their great appreciation for the work the Sailors performed.
"This was truly a humbling and rewarding experience," said Gas Turbine Systems Electrical 2nd Class Michael Williams. "These children are facing many obstacles, but I was impressed with the program in place at Ciudad del Nino and feel as though it has them pointed in the right direction."
When the work for the day was complete, the Sailors sat and enjoyed lunch with the children before relaxing and playing a game of soccer.
"The children asked lots of questions about what we do onboard. They were also curious as to whether the lifestyles they see in the movies are true. We had to explain that we don't do a lot of what you see onscreen on a daily basis, but we do train for just about every situation, and that you have to be prepared for anything", said Jaramillo.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet supports U.S. Southern Command's joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations in order to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.