HMCS Winnipeg makes donation to children’s centre in Jakarta

Commanding Officer Commander Annick Fortin partakes in community outreach with children from Kampung Kids during Operation Projection in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Friday, Sept. 2.

Kateryna Bandura,  

Canadian sailors brought smiles to children thousands of kilometres away.

As it is a custom that Canadian ships participate in outreach activities during port visits, 11 sailors, including the Commanding Officer of HMCS Winnipeg, Cdr Annick Fortin and Padre Dominic Lafrenière, presented a cheque to Juliana Sitepu, Coordinator of Kampung Kids, a children’s centre in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Sept. 2.

“The children laughed with us, they were proud to show us their skills, and they liked giving us high fives,” Lafrenière said.

The monetary donations came from Boomer’s Legacy, a charity that funds humanitarian initiatives that provide a lasting impact in communities the soldiers serve while deployed. In Jakarta, these funds served for buying English teaching supplies. The Canadian Embassy families donated children’s books.

Lafrenière said the Canadian Defence Attaché (CDA) proposed three different charities, but Padre Lafrenière personally chose Kampung Kids because of its direct impact on children. The target, he said, was to help the Center teach English as a second language to kids.

“I felt a little tear in my eye when Juliana asked the kids why it is important to learn English, and one young girl timidly answered ‘for our future’,” Lafrenière said.

The crew also spent some time with the children. They read story books, sang and danced, and drew pictures. Some children could speak some English, and Sitepu translated the rest.

“We sang some action songs such as ‘Head, shoulder, knees and toes’ and ‘If you’re happy and you know it’ – these transcend language,” Lafrèniere said.

After visiting the Center and the kids, the crew was toured around the neighborhood.

“It was a real cultural shock, really different from anything we had seen,” Lafrèniere said. “We understood the necessity for the kids to attend a center like Kampung Kids, to learn a second language, computer skills, hygiene, and nutrition to give them a chance for a better future.”

HMCS Winnipeg is currently on a six-month deployment to Asia-Pacific as part of Operation Projection, which seeks to increase Canada’s presence in the region.

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