VALETTA, Malta — Ten USS Barry (DDG 52) sailors volunteered to clean-up a local refugee home here, Jan. 5 during the ship's port visit commemorating the 100th anniversary of the "Great White Fleet."
The Dar il-qawsalla refugee home - located in Birkirkara, Malta - houses families of migrants seeking asylum in Malta, including single mothers, pregnant women and families with small children, and can house up to 16 families or 50 residents.
"Most of the asylum-seekers are from Somalia," said Hertha Trapani, care coordinator for the facility. "They come by boat, and they are required by law to be kept in detention while they are waiting for humanitarian status."
The house currently cares for 35 residents who stay at the house for up to one year while waiting for their request for asylum to be approved. The home also provides employment, education, and housing referral services for residents.
"The residents are required to help with the maintenance of the house, but it's very difficult," said Trapani. "Most of the residents are pregnant or have small children, so it's very difficult to keep up a cleaning regimen."
Volunteering sailors spent the day cleaning windows and moving furniture donated to the house to help improve the quality of life for residents.
"We really love helping out and being of some value to the host nation," said Electronics Technician Second Class D'Angelo Morman. "We'll do anything we can do to help people in need and to assist in a worthy cause."
"We haven't had [Navy volunteers] yet," said Trapani. "I'm very grateful they came. We needed a lot of things and we need people to help us. Any time someone comes, it helps."
In 2008, there were nearly 3,000 requests for asylum in Malta. Dar il-qawsalla is one of three refugee homes in the area for families.
Barry sailors participated in five community relations projects during their four-day visit to the country. The ship will also host a reception to mark the 100th anniversary of the "Great White Fleet," a historic U.S. Navy goodwill voyage around the world that included a stop in Malta in 1909.
USS Barry is an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer and is home ported in Norfolk, Va. The ship is currently on a regularly scheduled six-month deployment in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of responsibility.