Journey of Hope Sailors Recognized

Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet, Combined Maritime Forces, Vice Adm. John. W. Miller, recognized the accomplishments of three special-needs sailors from the Kuwaiti ship, Journey of Hope, during a port visit in Bahrain, Nov. 25.

The sailors were recognized for their spirited voyage to raise awareness of the rights and potential of people with intellectual disabilities.

Miller and the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the Kingdom of Bahrain, his excellency, Shaikh Azzman bin Mubarak Al-Sabah, honored the three Kuwaiti sailors who are serving as crew members aboard the vessel as they sailed to 44 ports in 18 different countries, spreading their message of the great things that people with intellectual disabilities are capable of.

“It is my pleasure to recognize the accomplishments of these outstanding sailors aboard the Journey of Hope for their courageous voyage,” said Miller. “Today is a great day for Kuwait [and] it’s a great day for Khaled, Mishal and Mohammed. The Journey of Hope is a reminder that each and every person possesses unique abilities.”

The three sailors were presented certificates and medals, making them honorary members of the Combined Maritime Forces, the coalition of 30 nations whose navies patrol the waterways of the Middle East.

The vessel set out on its 215 day voyage from Kuwait in May and has traveled through the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea, and Mediterranean Sea before stopping in Bahrain prior to returning home to Kuwait.

“I am very happy to be here,” said Mohammed Sami Al-Haji, one of the three honorees aboard Journey of Hope. “Many people have sons like this. Give them a chance and let them go everywhere. I am happy to go back to Kuwait, and for the people of Kuwait.”

The Journey of Hope was created by a group of parents that had successful experiences in dealing with children with special needs ranging from Down syndrome to autism.

The goal of the expedition is to bring awareness of the unique abilities people with intellectual disabilities possess, and Kuwait’s contributions and advances in care for those with special needs. It also highlights global attention to Kuwait’s disability initiatives as a whole.

“The world has heard your voices and millions of people will benefit,” said Miller. “You overcame all the challenges and obstacles of sailing at sea. Your accomplishments served as inspirations to others. Because of your achievements, they now understand that like you, they can achieve their wildest dreams.”

Press Release; Image: US Navy