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U.S. Marines Partner with Liberian Soldiers to Deliver School Supplies
U.S. Marines with Marine Advisor Team (MAT) and personnel with the Liberian Security Sector Reform (SSR) program joined soldiers with the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) to deliver school supplies to the United Methodist School System in Monrovia,
MONROVIA, Liberia - Armed Forces of Liberia Privates Julius Sanmah, Mark Wahn, Momo Kaifak, and Swaray Kafumba work with U.S. Marine Corporals Michael Tormos and Sean Castaneda, advisors with Marine Advisor Team, Africa Partnership Station (APS) Nashville, to unload boxes of school supplies for the United Methodist School System in Monrovia, February 27, 2009.  Approximately165 desks and 319 boxes containing school bags and school kits were delivered through the U.S. Navy's Project Handclasp program, which allows the Navy to utilize their empty cargo space to transport donated goods and deliver them to ports of call. (U.S. Marine photo by Sergeant Elsa Portillo)
3 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 1 of 3: MONROVIA, Liberia - Armed Forces of Liberia Privates Julius Sanmah, Mark Wahn, Momo Kaifak, and Swaray Kafumba work with U.S. Marine Corporals Michael Tormos and Sean Castaneda, advisors with Marine Advisor Team, Africa Partnership Station (APS) Nashville, to unload boxes of school supplies for the United Methodist School System in Monrovia, February 27, 2009. Approximately165 desks and 319 boxes containing school bags and school kits were delivered through the U.S. Navy's Project Handclasp program, which allows the Navy to utilize their empty cargo space to transport donated goods and deliver them to ports of call. (U.S. Marine photo by Sergeant Elsa Portillo) Download full-resolution version
MONROVIA, Liberia - Private Stephen Augusin and other Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) soldiers unload donated school desks to a school in Monrovia, February 27, 2009. The AFL soldiers and U.S. Marines with Africa Partnership Station (APS), delivered roughly 165 desks and 319 boxes containing school bags and school kits, as part of a U.S. Navy program called Project Handclasp, which allows the Navy to utilize empty cargo space to transport donated goods and deliver them to ports of call. APS is an international initiative developed by U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Naval Forces Africa which aims to work cooperatively with U. S. and international partners to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Marine photo by Sergeant Elsa Portillo)
3 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 2 of 3: MONROVIA, Liberia - Private Stephen Augusin and other Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) soldiers unload donated school desks to a school in Monrovia, February 27, 2009. The AFL soldiers and U.S. Marines with Africa Partnership Station (APS), delivered roughly 165 desks and 319 boxes containing school bags and school kits, as part of a U.S. Navy program called Project Handclasp, which allows the Navy to utilize empty cargo space to transport donated goods and deliver them to ports of call. APS is an international initiative developed by U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Naval Forces Africa which aims to work cooperatively with U. S. and international partners to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Marine photo by Sergeant Elsa Portillo) Download full-resolution version
MONROVIA, Liberia - Soldiers with the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and U.S. Marines with Marine Advisor Team (MAT), Africa Partnership Station (APS) Nashville, as well as personnel assigned to the Liberian Security Sector Reform (SSR) program work together to deliver school supplies to the United Methodist School System in Monrovia, February 27, 2009.  Approximately 165 desks and 319 boxes containing school bags and school kits were delivered as part of a U.S. Navy program called Project Handclasp, which allows the Navy to utilize their empty cargo space to transport donated goods and deliver them to ports of call. (U.S. Marine photo by Sergeant Elsa Portillo)
3 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 3 of 3: MONROVIA, Liberia - Soldiers with the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and U.S. Marines with Marine Advisor Team (MAT), Africa Partnership Station (APS) Nashville, as well as personnel assigned to the Liberian Security Sector Reform (SSR) program work together to deliver school supplies to the United Methodist School System in Monrovia, February 27, 2009. Approximately 165 desks and 319 boxes containing school bags and school kits were delivered as part of a U.S. Navy program called Project Handclasp, which allows the Navy to utilize their empty cargo space to transport donated goods and deliver them to ports of call. (U.S. Marine photo by Sergeant Elsa Portillo) Download full-resolution version
MONROVIA, Liberia - Armed Forces of Liberia Privates Julius Sanmah, Mark Wahn, Momo Kaifak, and Swaray Kafumba work with U.S. Marine Corporals Michael Tormos and Sean Castaneda, advisors with Marine Advisor Team, Africa Partnership Station (APS) Nashville, to unload boxes of school supplies for the United Methodist School System in Monrovia, February 27, 2009.  Approximately165 desks and 319 boxes containing school bags and school kits were delivered through the U.S. Navy's Project Handclasp program, which allows the Navy to utilize their empty cargo space to transport donated goods and deliver them to ports of call. (U.S. Marine photo by Sergeant Elsa Portillo)
MONROVIA, Liberia - Private Stephen Augusin and other Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) soldiers unload donated school desks to a school in Monrovia, February 27, 2009. The AFL soldiers and U.S. Marines with Africa Partnership Station (APS), delivered roughly 165 desks and 319 boxes containing school bags and school kits, as part of a U.S. Navy program called Project Handclasp, which allows the Navy to utilize empty cargo space to transport donated goods and deliver them to ports of call. APS is an international initiative developed by U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Naval Forces Africa which aims to work cooperatively with U. S. and international partners to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. (U.S. Marine photo by Sergeant Elsa Portillo)
MONROVIA, Liberia - Soldiers with the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and U.S. Marines with Marine Advisor Team (MAT), Africa Partnership Station (APS) Nashville, as well as personnel assigned to the Liberian Security Sector Reform (SSR) program work together to deliver school supplies to the United Methodist School System in Monrovia, February 27, 2009.  Approximately 165 desks and 319 boxes containing school bags and school kits were delivered as part of a U.S. Navy program called Project Handclasp, which allows the Navy to utilize their empty cargo space to transport donated goods and deliver them to ports of call. (U.S. Marine photo by Sergeant Elsa Portillo)
U.S. Marines with Marine Advisor Team (MAT) and personnel with the Liberian Security Sector Reform (SSR) program joined soldiers with the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) to deliver school supplies to the United Methodist School System in Monrovia, Liberia, February 27, 2009.

The donation consisted of approximately 165 desks and 319 boxes containing school bags and school kits. The United Methodist School System received these items as a donation from a stateside organization and it was delivered through the U.S. Navy's Project Handclasp program.

This program, created in 1962, allows the U.S. Navy to collect donations from the private sector, transport them in their empty cargo space, and distribute them at ports of call.

"It's really, really exciting to see our new military coming to help and working with U.S. Marines as partners," said Dr. Anthony Dioh, director of the United Methodist
School System. "It is so exciting and it is helpful. It gives us hope that we have a new military that will not only protect the people but also serve the people, so I'm really delighted to know that this is possible."

This is the first time the United Methodist School System has used Project Handclasp, and it has been a success on various fronts, helping to alleviate the cost of transportation for the Liberian facilitator and also giving the U.S. Marines and AFL soldiers a chance to interact and make a difference in the community.

"It gives everyone a chance to help," said U.S. Marine Corporal Sean Castaneda, advisor, MAT. "It gives everyone a chance to help and makes everyone feel good about being able to do something to help another person."

All parties enjoyed the interaction and said they hope this was not a one-time event. Liberia is recovering from civil war, and donations via Project Handclasp play a part in this process.

"This is the first time we have had help from the Navy," said Dioh. "I'm praying that this will continue. … We just want to say thank you and that this new AFL has given us hope that there is a better future for our children, a better future for our nation."
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