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Porter Makes Mark in Seychelles with Community Relations Projects

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS071227-02
Release Date: 12/27/2007 9:19:00 AM

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Patrick Gearhiser, Kearsarge Strike Group Public Affairs

VICTORIA, Seychelles (NNS) -- After arriving in Port Victoria for a port visit, Dec. 17, Sailors aboard guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) volunteered their time with two community relations projects to help the local community.

The community relations projects were organized between the ship and the local government with the help of U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Roger Alejandro, who is part of the country coordination element, a liaison between Seychelles and the U.S. embassy.

"They always welcome Sailors," Alejandro said. "They appreciate our presence and visiting American involvement with the economy."

The first of the community relations projects took place on Dec. 18 at the Roche Caiman Bird Sanctuary, a 7.1-acre wetlands preserve on the east coast of Mahe, the largest island in the Seychelles archipelago. The sanctuary was founded in the late 1980s as a living and nesting area for wading birds.

Volunteering Sailors spent the day cleaning up the site, painting signs and helping the small, overwhelmed staff that works at the wetlands.

"I'm very grateful," said Michael Dale, the Wetlands Manger of Roche Caiman Bird Sanctuary. "What they do is very helpful. I love our volunteers. Maintaining the wetlands is hard and the staff we have can't do it alone. It's helpful whether we have three, five or 15 volunteers."

Dale also has a desire to establish a partnership with the various U.S. armed forces that visit the islands, including the U.S. Navy.

"I would like to work with any of the armed forces, especially the U.S. Navy," he said. "It's nice to get regular visits from the Navy."

The second community relations project occurred on Dec. 19 and involved several Sailors volunteering to paint the exterior of the St. Elizabeth Convent and Orphanage in Victoria. Storekeeper 2nd Class Tomas Lomotan was one of the Porter Sailors that volunteered.

"It's good to get off of the ship and have fun. I wanted to help children, help these people and build a relationship," Lomotan said. "This is a great experience; not just [this] (community relation) project, but because I can help a place like this."

The Sailors also spent time at a nearby daycare to help the children there with some holiday cheer.

"(At the daycare) we played games with the children, danced to Christmas music. I also helped console a child who was crying," Lomotan added.

Porter is currently on a scheduled deployment as part of the Kearsarge Expeditionary Strike Group.

For more news from Commander, Amphibious Squadron 8, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/phibron8/.

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