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U.S. Airmen Supporting Presidential Visit to Africa Help Orphans in Ghana
Airmen supporting President Bush&#39;s February visit to Africa brought gifts and supplies as part of a humanitarian outreach event for 150 orphaned children February 18 in Accra.<br />
Airmen supporting President Bush's February visit to Africa brought gifts and supplies as part of a humanitarian outreach event for 150 orphaned children February 18 in Accra.

The deployed members heard there was a possibility of visiting a local orphanage in the late afternoon February 17 and the numbers of volunteers and donations began to grow before the plans were even approved.

The military support to the president's vision was called the Joint Task Force-Nomad Fire (JTF-NF). President Bush visited Benin, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana and Liberia February 16 through 21.

After ensuring the visit wouldn't impact the team's primary mission, Colonel James Dew, Commander of JTF-NF (West), approved the plan. By mid-morning on February 18, the U.S. Embassy approved the trip.

Nearly 25 Airmen boarded the bus that afternoon headed for the Osu Children's Home. More wanted to participate, but couldn't due to mission requirements. Those individuals did the next best thing they could -- donated money to the effort.

"I've wanted to do something like this since we got here," said Technical Sergeant Sarah Gordon, a JTF-NF (West) personnelist in charge of contingency operations.

The bus stopped at a local store where the volunteers pooled resources, including the money donated back by those who couldn't attend, and bought more than $500 worth of supplies. By the time the bus arrived at the orphanage, the group was laden down with bags of rice, baby formula, school supplies, hygiene products, laundry detergent and toys.

The group toured the facility before settling in for some cuddling and play time with children who ranged from newborns to 18 year olds.

"Some of the hardships these children have endured are truly amazing," said Captain Cheo Stalworth, a JTF-NF(West) communications officer.

"This child is 6 months old, although he is the size of a 3 month old," an orphanage volunteer said as she fed sips of formula to a small infant from a medicine cup. "He is sick and was abandoned by his family."

The Airmen spent two hours with the children and connected with many of the children. One young boy approached Staff Sergeant Scott Warren, a JTF-NF(West) communications journeyman who came to the Osu Children's Home

"Do you speak French?" the boy named Mohammed asked.

"No. I'm sorry, I don't. I wish I did," Warren replied.

"I only speak a little English," Mohammed said.

The boy smiled and pointed to see Sergeant Warren's tattoo. Despite the language barrier, the two managed to talk about the boy's life.

"It wasn't until later that I learned the boy's family was shot in another country. He walked the whole way here on his own," Warren said. "He's only been here five days."

The Airmen hand out more than $500 worth of supplies they purchased through personal donations for the orphans at the Osu Children's Home.