ST. KITTS AND NEVIS --
Reservists from the 317th Airlift Squadron delivered humanitarian aid June 13, from Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina to the islands of Haiti, Saint Kitts and Nevis.
According to Capt. John Williams, 317th AS C-17 Globemaster III pilot and aircraft commander for the mission, bringing humanitarian aid to countries during scheduled training flights not only improves the 315th Airlift Wing abilities to be ready at a moment’s notice but also improves the lives of the citizens of Haiti, Saint Kitts and Nevis for many years to come.
“This exercise is a continuation of a long history of humanitarian missions that fly out of Joint Base Charleston,” said Williams. “To be able to partner with the Denton Program to enrich the lives of our neighbors is a very rewarding job.”
The Denton Program allows donors by non-governmental agencies, international organizations and private voluntary donors to use space available onboard military aircraft to transport humanitarian aid.
The 315th AW, through a partnership with U.S. Aid’s Denton Program, has delivered humanitarian aid to Haiti numerous times. Most recently, in April 2015, when pilots from the 315th AW flew 20 sorties during the four-day deployment and airlifted more than 345,000 pounds of humanitarian cargo.
More than 65,000 pounds of food was delivered to Haiti and will ensure thousands of children will be fed.
“Humanitarian missions are very rewarding for many reasons,” said Staff Sgt. Christina Roberts, 317th Airlift Squadron loadmaster.
However, this is the first time aid has ever been delivered by the 315th AW to the island nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis.
“St. Kitts and Nevis is a country grappling with serious youth issues related to gang violence, drugs and economic hardship,” said Chuck Fox, of Community Bikes, a company based in Hamilton, N.Y., that donated bicycles for at risk youth to the islands.
“The bicycles will be secured and maintained at the Youth Community Division site in Basseterre, Saint Kitts,” said Fox. “School children participating in the programs will learn how to safely ride, maintain and care for a bike.”
In addition to the bicycles, the children of Saint Kitts and Nevis will receive donated medical and school supplies.
“The school supplies included in the upcoming shipment were specifically identified and requested by the principals of the two schools to receive them,” said Fox. “The music instruments and supplies are being provided at the direct request of Member of Parliament and former Minister of Culture Ms. Marcella Liburd, who shares with others a vision for a youth orchestra and other music opportunities as an important and effective alternative to gang violence and drugs.”
In a country with a rich cultural heritage but with no music stores, limited resources and scarce opportunities for young people, the instruments will meet an important need.
The bicycles will be stored and maintained at the Youth and Community Division in Basseterre. The school supplies will be delivered to William Connor Primary School and Thomas Cotton School for special needs children. The hospital equipment will delivered to JN France Hospital in St. Kitts.
“Everyone did a fantastic job on this mission,” said Williams. “Not only were we able to complete our training mission, we were also able to be good ambassadors and help a lot of people who really need it.”
Saint Kitts and the neighboring island of Nevis constitute one country.
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