Soldiers volunteer at Children’s Village in Burkina Faso

Every member of the U.S. Army team is a volunteer, but some individuals take their commitment to service a step further and are always on the look out for situations where they are needed.



By Staff Sgt. Lance Pounds U.S. Army Africa Vicenza, Italy Feb 27, 2017
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Every member of the U.S. Army team is a volunteer, but some individuals take their commitment to service a step further and are always on the look out for situations where they are needed.

Two Soldiers seized the opportunity during a U.S. Army Africa-led mission to share crime scene investigation and management skills with Gendarmerie Forces, Aug.15-Sept. 9, in Ouagadougou & Bobo, Burkina Faso.

“During a break in our training, I asked one of the Gendarme officers where I could volunteer,” said Sgt. 1st Class Deril Oliver, a detainee operations noncommissioned officer with the USARAF Office of the Provost Marshal.

Oliver said the Gendarme officer was surprised by his question, because it was not part of the mission nor was it something he thought U.S. Army Soldiers would do. The Gendarme officer then gave Oliver directions to a local orphanage.

Oliver, a native of Dickinson, Texas, and one of his fellow teammates, Sgt. 1st Class Kasey Olson, a criminal intelligence noncommissioned officer, volunteered their personal time at a SOS Children's Village, located in Bobo, Sept. 4.

SOS Children's Villages, a non-governmental and non-denominational organization, works with communities, partners and states to prevent family breakdown and provide care for children who have lost parental care, or who risk losing it; according to their official website.

Oliver said the family-based structure of the facility was unlike any other organization he had volunteered with.

“The facility was set up in a way that every child gets the love, attention and nurturing they may get in a typical family setting,” Oliver said.

The facility brings in women, such as widowers, to live with and raise approximately 10 children.

“She is like a mother, providing one-on-one interaction,” said Oliver. “These mothers genuinely care for the children they are taking care of. It was nice to see that these children weren’t just another number.”

Oliver said his desire to volunteer began with a U.S. Army Cultural Understanding & Language Proficiency program mission to Sao Tome. He has since volunteered in Tanzania.

Olson, a native of Vancouver, Wash., had also volunteered through the CULP program, coincidently in Burkina Faso.

During their visit, Oliver and Olson gave soccer balls to the children and then played games with them.

Over a four-week period, Oliver and his team not only shared their knowledge and experience with Burkinabe Gendarme officers; they took the opportunity to expand their cultural understanding of the local community and build relationships with their Burkinabe partners.

“Volunteering our time, really blew away the Gendarme officers,” Oliver said.

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