LEOGANE, Haiti --
She was barely three feet tall, clothed only in a diaper and wearing a red ribbon in her hair, but the young Haitian girl walked up with surprising confidence to a Marine, receiving a package of food nearly equal to her in size.
More than 5,000 Haitians have lined up at multiple distribution sites to receive food and water offered by Marines and Sailors from Security Cooperation Marine Air Ground Task Force, Africa Partnership Station 10, as they teamed up with Sri Lankan United Nations workers to help pass out over 10,000 Meals, Ready-to-Eat, Jan. 24 through 29.
“I think the relationship between the Sri Lankan UN and U.S Marines is vital to the success of our mission in humanitarian assistance in Haiti,” said Gunnery Sgt. James Baum, company gunnery sergeant, Ground Combat Element, SCMAGTF.
The earthquake that hit Haiti left hundreds of thousands of locals homeless and hungry. After picking up 300 boxes of food and 246 jugs of water, the Marines and Sailors, along with the UN workers, passed the food out in Carrefour and Leogane to assist the Haitian natives in their recovery. Together, the group set up security and organized lines for the people to receive the food.
“I thought the Sri Lankan military did an outstanding job working with us,” said Baum. “I was impressed with how efficiently they operated. They had a good routine going and a very good rapport with the people.”
Pallets stacked high with boxes of food continue to be delivered to the Beach Landing Site 2, giving the SCMAGTF the opportunity to assist in many more humanitarian operations.
“We are scheduled to receive over 90,000 boxes of food to give to various villages throughout the country,” said Baum.
Marines for the SCMAGTF came ashore on Jan. 21 and had previously been surveying the medical treatment capabilities of the local hospitals and clinics while awaiting the delivery of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief supplies for distribution.
“It feels good to be off the ship and assisting those who truly need help,” said Cpl. Daniel Lyrla, a squad leader with the GCE, SCMAGTF. “I think when the guys get back from their missions, they feel a sense of pride and accomplishment and are looking forward to getting back out there and helping again.“
The humanitarian operations ran smoothly, ending with smiles, appreciation, and satisfied stomachs. The Marines and Sailors of the SCMAGTF will continue passing out food, giving them a chance to help out the unfortunate country and lifting the spirits of both the Haitians and Marines.