A visit with heart in the Philippines

7 September 2023

Australian Defence Force and Armed Forces of the Philippines personnel paused after weeks of tactical training during Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2023 (IPE23) to put smiles on children’s faces.

Ship’s company from HMAS Canberra and embarked forces from 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment made a special visit the Asociacion De Damas orphanage in the Philippines.

Australian Army Chaplain Mitchell Porter said these community engagements are the best way to understand and engage with Pacific neighbours.

“We were invited by our Philippines colleagues to visit and engage with the children and we jumped at the chance to come,” Chaplain Porter said.

“These children are in a vulnerable spot in their lives. For us, that’s worth all the time and energy to put a smile on their face.

“Our partners in the Philippines built this organisation to feed, clothe and care for these people and I believe it’s our duty and obligation to assist them.

“For me, the measure of success is if we can make just one child smile and we’ve achieved more than that today.

“This is what IPE is all about, we want to build a relationship and to do that you need to understand the country and its people.

Chaplain Porter said he hopes members took away a valuable lesson from the visit.

“I think they’re learning to have perspective, and how incredibly blessed they are,” Chaplain Porter said.

“This orphanage is run by the Catholic Woman’s Association and the reason they do this and why our chaplaincy is interested in this, is faith.

“I’m incredibly grateful to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and all the volunteers at De Damas that worked so hard to put this together.”



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