Thursday, January 27, 2011

Southern Partnership Station Delivers Wheelchairs, Water Filters to Guatemala

Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala January 26, 2011 - The Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2011 team aboard High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) delivered more than 28,000 pounds of Project Handclasp donations to Guatemalan non-government organizations in Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, Jan. 26.
Forty-four pallets of mobility aids and five pallets of water filtration systems were unloaded from the ship's mission bay in the early morning.
"Project Handclasp is such an important part of SPS, because it ties directly into our goal of partnership and sharing," said SPS 2011 Mission Commander, Cmdr. Mark Becker. "In addition to conducting subject matter expert exchanges with military and government agencies here, we get the chance to deliver aid to those in need."
Project Handclasp is a U.S. Navy program that accepts and transports educational, humanitarian and goodwill material donated by America's private sector on a space-available basis aboard U.S. Navy ships for distribution to foreign nation recipients.
The items were picked up by representatives from Hope Haven Foundation Guatemala, an organization that manufactures wheel chairs for children, and representatives from the University of Virginia (UVA) Guatemala Initiative, a public health program in the highlands of Guatemala that combines medical service, Spanish language acquisition and cultural education in the context of building sustainable relationships with the people and communities of Guatemala.
"We are so pleased today with this donation, and we are very appreciative," said Omar Cruz, Hope Haven Foundation Guatemala representative.
Cruz is a wheelchair user who works at the Antigua, Guatemala, manufacturing plant.
"These products will dramatically assist communities in the islands of Guatemala; provide clean water to schools and homes," said Scott Schubert, UVA Guatemala Initiative representative.
The wheel chair pallets were donated by Hope Haven International Ministries in Iowa, and the water filtration systems were donated by the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Virginia. The total value of the donations was $191, 317.
The HSV 2 crew has delivered Project Handclasp materials to Chile, Ecuador and Haiti as part of SPS 2011 and is scheduled to deliver items to El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua before the conclusion of the mission in April.
SPS is an annual deployment of U.S. ships to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility in the Caribbean and Latin America involving information sharing with navies, coast guards and civilian services throughout the region.
Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (COMUSNAVSO) is the naval component command for U.S. Southern Command and is responsible for all naval personnel and assets in the area of responsibility.
COMUSNAVSO conducts a variety of missions in support of the U.S. maritime strategy, including theater security cooperation, relationship building, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, community relations, and counter-illicit trafficking operations.

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