SAILORS FROM the US aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower dropped into Lisbon last week to lend a helping hand to local charities.
The 70 sailors gave up one of their free days of shore leave in the capital doing odd jobs from painting buildings and moving boxes to arranging clothes. It was all part of a number of volunteer projects organised by the US Embassy in Lisbon.
Six Portuguese charities struggling with limited resources to make a difference to disadvantaged people’s lives benefited from the sailors’ help.
The charities were Banco Alimentar, Ajuda de Mãe, Colégio as Descobertas, Aldeia de Crianças SOS, Irmãzinhas dos Pobres and ATL Galiza.
One of the sailors, who cannot be named for security reasons, said: “I feel really blessed to be here and I don’t believe in not volunteering.”
Spokespersons Magda Ferreira and Ana do Carmo from the US Embassy in Lisbon said: “At the end of the day, the experience proved to be mutually beneficial and the feedback was exceptionally positive from both the sailors and the institutions which welcomed them.”
Felipa Mendonça, from Ajuda de Mãe, an institution which helps pregnant teenagers and mothers in need, highlighted the “fantastic work” the sailors carried out and stressed it was “a huge help”.
Besides noting the “great service” from the volunteers, Maria de Fátima Santos, member of the Board of Directors of handicapped school Colégio as Descobertas, highlighted the interaction between both children and sailors.
“This contact with the outside world is extremely important and advantageous for these children who live in an especially closed environment,” she said.
This was not the first charity service for many of the sailors who have volunteered at other ports of call in order to help the local communities and experience local culture.
“It was surely a special day for them as well as for the institutions which need all the support they can get to guarantee that those in need will always have a safe harbour to turn to,” said the spokespersons.
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