Manas Airmen help support disabled children in Kyrgyzstan
By Staff Sgt. Carolyn Viss, 376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 30, 2010
TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, Kyrgyzstan (AFNS) -- Airmen from the Transit Center at Manas helped disabled children at a Kyrgyz children's center learn to sign, draw and study during a visit April 27.
Some of the children have autism, Down syndrome, and cerebral palsy; some are just physically handicapped, said Sam Duechenbi, a German translator for the Nadjeshda Children's Center, who met with Airmen during their visit.
Some board at Nadjeshda; some go home to their parents at night. But they all benefit from the myriad therapy techniques provided by the children's center, he added.
"Many Kyrgyz people didn't believe these children were able to be educated or rehabilitated," he explained. "The Nadjeshda Center makes the impossible, possible,"
Thanks to the volunteers and paid staff at Nadjeshda, all the children now have a chance at a new life, he said. One former student now attends technical school, and another recently started college at the American University, thanks to the care they were able to receive.
The center hosts 60 children and teenagers, ages 2 to 21, who are disabled in different ways.
Airmen have supported the children's center for the last six years, said Master Sgt. Weisa Hurley, the Manas Area Benefits Outreach Society focus group leader for this center. They helped rebuild and repair the facility and spent time with the children.
During her deployment, she said she has assisted in the interactions between Nadjeshda and the Transit Center.
"We were able to bring (the civil engineers) out to help repair a fence outside the playground," Sergeant Hurley said.
The fence was a big improvement, because after the installment of the playground many neighborhood drug dealers and people abusing alcohol would sneak in and use the center's property for drug sales. It had become a dangerous place for the children, and center officials almost had to stop allowing children to play outside because of the security issue.
Now, however, the children are able to make use of the outdoor facilities to get not only the sunshine, but also the therapy they need.