Article by Staff Sgt. Matthew Benedetti
376th Air Expeditionary Wing
SOKULUK, Kyrgyzstan – Airmen and sailors from the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan, visited the Friends of Children Orphanage in Sokoluk, Kyrgyzstan, to work on improvement projects at the facility Aug. 8, 2012.
The orphanage is home to more than 35 children ranging in age from one to 18 years old. Throughout the past four months in an effort to continue to strengthen partnerships in the local community, airmen from the Transit Center’s Theater Security Cooperation division repaired electrical outlets, replaced a septic tank, built a bathroom and replaced a water heater in an effort to enhance the quality of life for the children.
On this trip, the airmen partnered with sailors from the U.S. Naval Forces Central Forward Headquarters detachment to replace panels in a shower room, install a new sink and paint faded areas on the walls.
Connie Smith, a counselor at the home, was grateful for the volunteers’ help. “It is amazing how much work the airmen have done here and we are all thankful. The kids get excited when they know they will be here to work and the guys are all so patient,” said Smith, a native of Nashville, Tenn.
Senior Chief Petty Officer Michael Cook, who was perpetually flanked by “helpers” as he went about his work, said that, “everything we do here is for the kids. I want to make sure I give them enough time and attention.”
Cook is a native of Fort Worth, Texas, and deployed from the Navy Reserve Forces Command in Norfolk, Va.
Tech. Sgt. Stephane Beck, a civil engineering structural craftsman by trade, found working at the home rewarding due to the direct impact each project has on the lives of the children.
“What we do here at the orphanage is very gratifying. It is the best job that I have ever had. We get to do something that is different but still use our expertise to build and repair essential items, ensuring the environment is safe for the kids,” said Beck, who is deployed from Misawa Air Base, Japan, and a native of Dallas.
Photo By Senior Airman Brett Clashman