GAETA, Italy- Sailors from guided-missile destroyer USS McFaul (DDG 74) volunteered at the Centro Laila Orphanage in Mondragone, Italy, during a port visit to Gaeta, Italy, Mar. 12.
Sailors spent the day volunteering their time throughout the orphanage where they worked in the gardens, cleaned bathrooms and scrubbed floors, and organized donated clothes and supplies to help improve conditions at the orphanage.
“It was a very rewarding experience to help others. I felt like I made a difference in the lives of children,” said Sonar Technician 3rd Class Alexander Vasquez.
Centro Laila has provided shelter, care, and education to hundreds of immigrant children for 25 years. This family-run orphanage started as a home to children from Nigeria and Ghana, but quickly grew into a home for both children and adults from all over Sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe and very recently, Libya.
Speaking to volunteers, Giselle Luciana, a facilitator at the orphanage, expressed her gratitude: “Our center is operated solely on help from volunteers, so more help blesses us all. Thank you so much.”
Sailors also played soccer and other games with the children. Before they left, the team of volunteers from McFaul were given hugs and a few tears of appreciation.
“I really felt that we left a great lifelong impression on the hearts of the children at the orphanage,” said Yeoman Seaman Andryana Watkins. “I know my heart was touched.”
McFaul, homeported out of Norfolk, Va. is currently conducting theater security cooperation and maritime security operations in the 6th Fleet area of operation.