PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI — Haitian children explore the inside of a tent, using every flap and vent as an entrance, dodging their way between the legs of U.S. Army Paratroopers. Giggling, they pull at the ropes stabilizing the structure, testing its construction. The smell of freshly unpacked tents and the sound of children's laughter fill the air.
This scene was replayed at four different sites around Port-au-Prince as Paratroopers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team went along their mission, providing shelter for Haitians in need. Despite the long hours, in the blistering sun, the joy of a child's smile was considered the best part of the day for several of the Paratroopers present.
"It was great to see their smiles and appreciation for our hard work," said Sgt. Greg Meyers, a native of Springfield, Ohio and forward observer with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.
More than a dozen Paratroopers assigned to HHC, 2BCT distributed and assembled five large tents, provided by the United States Agency for International Development, in four different areas of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, for needy families and orphans. With the help of USAID, the Soldiers were able to locate people who were in need of shelter, which is becoming more important everyday due to the impending rainy season.
The Soldiers worked together to assemble the tents, first fitting together the frame, attaching the canvas, pounding stakes into the hard ground and finally tying the tent down. They even received help from the locals receiving the tents; stabilizing stakes while they were hammered into the ground and holding the tent steady as it was secured.
The Soldiers' last stop for the day was the Christian Light Ministries orphanage. Starting as a school in 2002, Sherrie Fausey, a teacher from Jacksonville, Fla., began taking in orphaned children two years ago. "I came [to Port-au-Prince] on a one week visit. The Lord called me back to start a school," Fausey said.
Fausey cared for 29 orphans prior to the earthquake; she now has 42. She has resumed classes for the children, however they are being held in the only two rooms of the building that are safe to enter as well as the courtyard. These locations also happen to be where the children sleep.
This will change, however, now that they have a shelter that can provide shade from the hot Caribbean sun during class hours and give the children a pest-free place to sleep.
Although it was a hard day's work for the troopers, at the end of the day they still had energy to play with the children. When the Soldiers arrived, the orphans simply stood back and watched them work, but after a few minutes and receiving some well-deserved attention from the troopers, the children were giving them high-fives and hugging them around the legs.
Their appreciation for their new refuge was evident. Once the tent was erect, the orphans ran through it, surveying their new sanctuary. "It was nice to see someone get so excited about a tent," said Clair Winstead, a native of Yanceyville, N.C., and intelligence analyst with HHC, 2BCT. "It seemed like, of all the people we could help," Winstead said, "they were surprised we were there to help them."
This work, Haitian orphans receive shelter from 2nd Brigade Combat Team Paratroopers, by SSG Kissta DiGregorio, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.