The crew of high speed vessel Swift (HSV 2) donated 23 pallets of humanitarian items, including food products that will result in 130,000 meals for Togolese still suffering from flooding in 2007, on behalf of Africa Partnership Station and the Navy's Project Handclasp program Jan. 29.
"These gifts come at a good time given the nutritional situation which exists and will be a contribution which all of our partners can use to help the government in its efforts to redress the problems," said Una McCauley, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) country representative in Togo. "I would like to thank the U.S. Navy on behalf of all the Togolese children in the areas where this food will be sent without delay."According to news reports, more than 20,000 were left homeless during the August - September 2007 floods in the extreme north of Togo, an area that has long suffered from chronic food shortages.
Project Handclasp is a U.S. Navy program that coordinates the transport of donations of medical supplies, toys, food items, and other humanitarian goods provided by organizations and individuals in the U.S. to those in need around the world.
The donation was marked by a ceremony that included the participation of U.S. Ambassador to Togo, David B. Dunn, and consisted of 18,000 packages of a rice food product that will provide 107,000 meals, and 40 large bags of a vegetable protein product that serves as an alternate protein source for as many as 23,000 meals.
UNICEF will work with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Togo to distribute the food, according to Navy Lt. Cmdr. Chuck Bell, a civil affairs planner from Maritime Civil Affairs Squadron 2, and the NGO activities coordinator for APS. "This type of cooperative effort between a visiting ship, the U.S. Embassy, UNICEF, and NGOs on the ground is a strong example of how Africa Partnership Station can bring diverse organizations together to address common concerns."
In addition to nutritional supplies, medical supplies were donated to Be Hospital in Lome, and a manual sewing workshop was given to La Conscience, an NGO which uses its programs to teach trades to the young.
Volunteers from APS also visited Centre d' Accueil, an orphanage, to deliver a box of toys and meet some of the children benefiting from Project Handclasp.
"It's gratifying for the crew of Swift to be here as part of APS and to make a small contribution to the very important humanitarian efforts of organizations such as UNICEF and our other Project Handclasp partners in Togo," Swift Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Charles Rock said.
Africa Partnership Station 2007 is a U.S. Naval Forces Europe-led initiative, executed by a multi-national staff aboard Swift and amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43). During its deployment, Swift will work with various government and non-government organizations to deliver humanitarian aid to African countries.
© Africa Partnership Station Public Affairs