Sailors and staff from Journey of Hope with Vice Admiral Miller and Commodore Blount
Sailors and staff from Journey of Hope with Vice Admiral Miller and Commodore Blount

Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) gained three honorary members last week as young people with intellectual difficulties sailed into Bahrain in the closing stage of their inspirational journey.

Vice Admiral John W Miller US Navy, Commander CMF, and Commodore Keith Blount OBE Royal Navy, his Deputy Commander, joined well-wishers from across Bahrain to welcome Kuwaiti ship Journey of Hope as she came alongside in Amwaj Marina on Tuesday 25 November. In the ceremony that followed, Vice Admiral Miller congratulated the three young people for their courage and commitment before presenting them with certificates and medals, marking their honorary membership of CMF.

Vice Admiral Miller said:

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

The Commander and Deputy Commander were joined by the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the Kingdom of Bahrain, His Excellency Shaikh Azzman bin Mubarak Al-Sabah, who honoured the three young Kuwaiti sailors serving as crew members aboard the vessel, which sailed into 44 ports in 18 different countries.

The vessel set out on its 215 day voyage from Kuwait in May and travelled down through the Gulf into the Gulf of Oman, through Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea before passing through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea. The return journey included a visit to Bahrain prior to returning to Kuwait.

Mohammed Sami Al-Haji, one of the three young people aboard Journey of Hope said:

“I am very happy to be here. 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.”

Journey of Hope was created by a group of parents who had successfully brought up children with learning difficulties ranging from Downs Syndrome to Autism. The goal of the expedition is to bring awareness of the unique abilities that people with learning difficulties possess and Kuwait’s contributions and advances in care for those with special needs. It also highlights Kuwait’s disability initiatives as a whole.

To conclude, Vice Admiral Miller said:

“The world has heard your voices and millions of people will benefit. 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.”