NONG PRUE, Kingdom of Thailand --
Marines and Sailors with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, took time out of their liberty period to give back to the local Thai community by painting a wall around the Father Ray Children’s Home, Feb. 23.
The event took place after the completion of exercise Cobra Gold 2011.
The volunteers painted the wall that went around the perimeter of the children’s home until it started raining, but even the rain did not dampen their spirits; instead, volunteers painted the outside of the building itself, which was shielded from the rain by a balcony.
“I really enjoyed doing this,” said Lance Cpl. Lance J. Jackson, an avionics technician with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262, 31st MEU. “I felt like I was helping out their community and doing my small part to help improve these kids’ lives, it was all really rewarding work.”
After the painting was finished, the Thai children that lived in the home put on a cultural show, for the Marines and Sailors, which included a traditional Thai dance by some of the girls, and a demonstration of Muay Thai boxing by some of the boys.
“My favorite part of the show itself was the boxing demonstration,” said Jackson. “For only being eight to ten years old the kids really showed a lot of skill.”
When the cultural show had ended, the Marines and Sailors got a chance to interact with the kids individually.
The kids benefited from the volunteers’ hard work and were able to see the good Marines and Sailors are capable of, but the volunteers themselves benefited from it too.
“For me personally, this made me feel like I was giving something back,” said Staff Sgt. Jason M. Vines, a senior analyst with Command Element, 31st MEU. “Cobra Gold was great for the militaries, but doing things like this gives you a more personal feeling of satisfaction, and I think everyone who volunteered feels that too.”
When it was time for the Marines and Sailors to leave, most had made new friends, and even the children did not want them to go.
“The best part of the entire thing was being able to interact with the kids,” said Jackson. “I love seeing them smile.”
The Kingdom of Thailand remains a close ally of the United States and that continued partnership has helped ensure stability throughout the Asia-Pacific region.