Contact Us Press Releases AFRICOM Portal
Project Handclasp Program Lends Assistance to Nigerian Schoolhouse
Africa Partnership Station (APS) Nashville Sailors delivered Project Handclasp boxes filled with medical supplies, clothes, toys, and text books to the Pacelli School of the Blind and Visually Impaired in Lagos, Nigeria March 24, 2009. <br /> <br
Africa Partnership Station (APS) Nashville Sailors delivered Project Handclasp boxes filled with medical supplies, clothes, toys, and text books to the Pacelli School of the Blind and Visually Impaired in Lagos, Nigeria March 24, 2009.

Project Handclasp is a Navy program which began in 1972 designed to donate supplies to those in need while helping sailors create a personal appreciation for the daily hardships other people face around the world. The donation occurred during USS Nashville's (LPD 13) Africa Partnership Station-based port visit to Lagos.

"It feels good to be able to help people and give them something they need," said Operations Specialist Seaman Reilly Mealer. "I was always taught to do what I can for others, and APS has given me that opportunity. You could tell from the reactions of the kids and their teachers that the work was really appreciated."

The Pacelli School, established in 1962, accepts students from around Nigeria for their programs. Pacelli focuses on helping children re-enter society, while being able to function normally without the use of eye sight.

The payoff on the school's work can be seen in the students' abilities, according to Mealer. They do not use walking canes. Instead, they help each other learn the layout of the school by memory.

"Everybody there was able to get around very easily," Mealer said. "The kids all seemed very happy and really enjoyed being with us. Some of them were even helping us unload the boxes."

A number of the students also participated in the Pacelli School Band, which played in concert with a visiting U.S. Navy band during the donation ceremony.

The Project Handclasp donations were delivered as part of the humanitarian side of the APS mission.

"APS provides a unique avenue to align efforts made by various navies, agencies and non-governmental organizations from Africa, the Americas and Europe," said APS commander Captain Cindy Thebaud.

APS Nashville departed Lagos March 27, following 11 days of APS-specific training.

Nashville is currently deployed with APS, 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 on the African continent. Nashville is focused on supporting the APS strategy in West and Central Africa.
PARTNERSHIPS OPERATIONS READINESS