Airmen support AU peacekeeping mission

Capt. Davina Petermann
3rd Air Force Public Affairs

***image1***Ramstein Airmen returned from Kigali, Rwanda, Tuesday after supporting a two-week airlift mission in the Darfur region of Sudan.

From May 3 to 14, 18 Airmen provided logistics and training support for the Rwandan Defense Force troop rotation. Approximately 2,200 Rwandan peacekeepers were airlifted into and out of Sudan as part of NATO’s response to support the African Union’s expanded peacekeeping mission in the Darfur region of Sudan.

“It is important for us to assist the African Union’s expanded peacekeeping mission in the Darfur region of Sudan,” said Lt. Gen. Rod Bishop, 3rd Air Force commander. “It helps ensure the security and stability of that region; which is critical to the people who live there.”

All transports were made aboard a Miami International Air 737-800 originating from the Kigali International Airport and carrying approximately 100 soldiers in each direction.

“It took many agencies working together as a team to accomplish this mission, including the Rwandan Defense Forces, U.S. Embassy, Miami Air Crew and members of the 786th Air Expeditionary Squadron,” said Maj. Norman Prue, Jr., 786th Air Expeditionary Squadron commander. “Everyone was extremely professional, and because of their professionalism the mission was executed flawlessly.”

Before the start of the mission, Airman 1st Class Macario Pulido collected and organized approximately 1,400 lbs of items to donate to local agencies in Rwanda. Once in Kigali, the Airmen and crew- members from Miami Air visited local shelters to pass out donations that ranged from children’s and adult clothing, to medical supplies, school supplies and toys.

“It was a very humbling experience,” said Airman Pulido. “Those kids don’t have the same opportunities as we do, and I’m just glad we were able to help out in our own small way.”

The donations were distributed to three separate organizations in Kigali; the Jamubandi Mwana home, Wibabar association and Gisimba orphanage.
Jamubandi Mwana is a home for the disabled, caring for 47 children and giving assistance to 250 children who live in the area. Wibabara is an association that gives care to 80 children and 70 adults infected with AIDS. Gisimba Orphanage cares for 186 children and gives assistance to 40 children in the area.

According to Damas Gisimba, director of the Gisimba Orphanage, the donations given by the 786th will be put to good use. “They bring donations each time they come, and we are very grateful to them,” said Mr. Gisimba. “They always bring items that we need and can use.”

In addition to distributing the donations, there was also enough time for a soccer match, where the children ran circles around the adults.