During a break from patrolling the Indian Ocean, sailors from HMS Sutherland have helped redecorate and renovate certain areas of a Tanzanian orphanage.
Men and women from the frigate headed to the Kidzcare home for 22 children in the port of Dar es Salaam during a brief break from the ship’s operations.
Some 25 volunteers from HMS Sutherland offered to help the orphans in their rest time when their ship took a break from tackling seaborne piracy and people and arms smuggling during maritime policing of the Indian Ocean.
The orphanage was set up 12 years ago by expatriates to care for and educate some of the city’s children left without parents - many of whom had died through AIDS or a related illness. The children (aged from two to 15), like their late parents, are sometimes HIV-positive.
Sailors spruced up the building inside and out, painted fences and gates, decorated two bedrooms, and generally smartened the children’s home. The multi-skilled ship’s engineers fixed the home’s damaged water pump and tried their hand at carpentry and DIY.
Badly-needed supplies of pens and paper were also delivered to the orphanage pre-school and the sailors dipped into their own pockets to help the orphans with home comforts. Many returned to their ship without their trusty HMS Sutherland baseball caps which were much-sought-after fashion accessories by the children.
The youngsters showed their appreciation by performing a song and dance routine at the end of the DIY day.
Kidzcare founder and director Mary Notman told the sailors:
The place looks great now after all your hard work. The children love having visitors and you are all welcome back at any time and must keep in touch.
HMS Sutherland’s Leading Physical Trainer, Sion Jenkins, said all his shipmates had been moved by the day they spent at the orphanage:
I was overwhelmed by the number of volunteers who came forward. We felt a great sense of achievement leaving the orphanage knowing that we’d helped in every way possible.
As well as stocking up on supplies, conducting maintenance on the 4,500-tonne warship after her Indian Ocean exertions, and hosting the usual official visits and receptions to fly the flag for the UK, HMS Sutherland also showed her teeth.
The ship’s Royal Navy and Royal Marines boarding team laid on a demonstration for members of the Tanzanian Defence Force to give them an idea of how warships working for the international Combined Maritime Forces carry out patrols off the east coast of Africa and how they might work with the country’s forces to combat the piratical scourge.
Commander Al Wilson, Sutherland’s Commanding Officer, said:
Our visit to Dar es Salaam has been a real success. Not only has it reaffirmed and strengthened the commitment that the United Kingdom has to Tanzania, but it’s also allowed my sailors to give something back to the local community, demonstrating their compassion and teamwork.
In addition to her maritime security efforts scouring the Indian Ocean for pirates, drugs and arms traffickers, and smugglers, HMS Sutherland is due to revert to the role for which she was designed - submarine-hunting.