USS Harpers Ferry
"First In Freedom"
Harpers Ferry Mentors and Tutors Bahraini Children
U.S. Navy story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mark El-Rayes
NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVITY, Bahrain - Sailors assigned to amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) participated in a community relations (COMREL) project at the Regional Institute for Active Learning (RIA) during a port visit to Bahrain, Dec. 30.
Fifteen Sailors played games and assisted students, between the ages of 4 to 18 with math and English language lessons.
“We visited a non-profit school that’s focused on helping children from lower income families who have special needs,” said Lt. Jason Michael Constantine, a Navy chaplain from Winston-Salam, N.C., assigned to Harpers Ferry . “We had Sailors teach the children math and English skills. Also just hanging out on the playground letting them know we care about them.”
RIA is a non-profit organization, founded in 1999 by Dr. Emad Al Attar and his wife, Christine Gordon. The school offers a year-round English curriculum with a pre-school nursery and a special educational unit for students with special needs.
“The kids were so happy,” said Religious Programs Specialist 1st Class Sennen Argochuqku, from Sugarland, Texas, the COMREL organizer. “We hugged them and carried them. We just played with them as kids. They were so happy and really enjoyed it.”
COMREL events give Sailors an opportunity to volunteer their time by working with the local community.
“It was good interacting with kids,” said Operations Specialist 2nd Class William Harmon, from Phoenix, Arizona, a COMREL participant. “Being on this deployment I haven’t seen any young people or family in awhile. I had a wonderful time, and I hope other Sailors can have this experience as well.”
Harpers Ferry is part of the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
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