U.S. Marines and sailors visited the Thailand Children's Home in Nakhon Ratchasima, Kingdom of Thailand, during a community relations event Feb. 9 prior to the start of exercise Cobra Gold 2013.
The community relations event was planned by U.S. Marine Capt. John Helm, CG 13 live fly cell officer in charge with 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, in coordination with Thai personnel from Wing One Royal Thai Air Force in Nakhon Ratchasima.
"I've been to the children's home in the past, and I felt that the children needed some help," said Helm. "My wife and I decided earlier this year that we wanted to do a community relations project here."
1st MAW and Wing One supported the project and provided what was necessary to make the project happen.
"We talked to the representatives of the live fly cell and were able to get them to pitch in some money," said Helm. "We received donations and were able to purchase clothes, toys and lunch."
Before the project, Helm, his wife and others from the live fly cell purchased more than enough food to feed the nearly 25 children they would be visiting. They also brought clothes, school supplies and toys.
When the U.S. Marines arrived, they were welcomed by Julaporn Eurwisawakul, director of the Thailand Children's Home.
"I would like to thank the participants of Cobra Gold very much," said Eurwisawakul. "They visit and give to us often, and they help make the children happy."
After spending time with the children during lunch, the Marines distributed the donated goods to the children. Among the other items were soccer balls, basketballs, Frisbees, towels, diapers and hygiene supplies.
The donations help Eurwisawakul carry out her mission of serving the kids and gave the children a chance to make some new friends.
"The children are always excited when Americans come," said Eurwisawakul. "They are excited when they bring food, toys and get to play with them."
Eurwisawakul has been director of the children’s home for more than 30 years, and while donations are greatly appreciated, she has done excellent work on her own.
"I take care of children until they are finished with high school," said Eurwisawakul. "When they complete high school, I raise money for them to go to a four-year university. In return, they come back and help me raise the children who are in grade school and high school."
Giving these children a good upbringing is a major point of pride for Eurwisawakul, but something else that gives her a great source of satisfaction is that she provides the children with a wholesome upbringing.
"Every Sunday, I take the children to church," said Eurwisawakul. "My husband is a preacher, and he teaches them the Bible."
While the purpose of CG 13 is to promote regional prosperity, security and cooperation among partner militaries, providing for the basic human needs of the local population is just as essential in forming these relationships. Community relations projects and humanitarian and civic assistance projects support the needs and humanitarian interests of our friends and partners.
Thailand and U.S. have enjoyed 180 years of strong relations. The two nations are committed to working together, which makes community relations projects essential to growing and strengthening that partnership.
"This is my last year at 1st MAW," said Helm. "I hope in the future that my predecessors come back to the Thailand Children's Home to provide toys, clothes or build something to add to these children's quality of life."