MANAS AIR BASE, Kyrgyzstan (AFPN) --
Even the rain couldn't dampen the spirits of 20 local Kyrgyz families who received keys to their new homes Nov. 23 from Habitat for Humanity, and built with the help of Airmen here.
Many of them, or their family members, had spent the last six months helping construct the four residential structures (each housing five families in an apartment style layout) that were now their homes.
Tech. Sgt. Richard Kilton, a 376th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron vehicle control officer and the Habitat for Humanity focus group leader, lead those efforts which included 93 Airmen logging some 1,500 hours at the work site since this past May.
The ceremony included numbering houses, handing over keys, and speeches by new home owners.
The project was part of an initiative started in May 2006 when Habitat for Humanity Kyrgyzstan won a grant for the "Cane Reed: 19th Century's Idea, 21st Century's Solution" project. There were 2,525 participants from 55 countries and only 30 winners. Habitat for Humanity Kyrgyzstan was one of those winners, receiving 10 homes under the program.
Of the 10 residential homes, four were built in the nearby capital of Bishkek -- allowing Manas AB members to lend a helping hand.
One year later, on May 22, 2007, Habitat Kyrgyzstan started building the four residential buildings in Bishkek.
The Habitat for Humanity concept pairs volunteers with family members to build homes. Families identified to receive the houses must participate in the building.
"I worked for my sister, since she is a single mother," said Timuir Moldobaev.
Volunteers round out the workforce, and that is how Manas Airmen got involved.
Through the Manas AB Outreach Society, the base's community service program that enables deployed Airmen to spend their limited personal time performing volunteer work, the base was able to support 22 trips to the site and provide manpower to the project.
"The houses were built faster than expected," said Jiydebaev Marat, Habitat for Humanity Kyrgyzstan executive director. "Air base volunteers gave us terrific help in building these houses."
"The homeowners told us that other volunteers were like guests, but we were like family," said Sergeant Kilton.
Manas AB Airmen dug trenches for the foundation, mixed 127.2 cubic meters of cement mortar, mixed 160 tons of clay and straw mortar for plastering, dug 76.5 cubic meters of pits for septic tank, dug 14.28 cubic meters of pits for toilets, painted 935 square meters of ceiling, cleaned windows, and varnished doors with oil.
Other items they helped out with were landscaping, putting net on walls, gluing walls, and plastering.
Members of the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing also presented the new homeowners with house warming plaques commemorating their new homes. The plaque designs were crafted from scrap wood with the help of the 376th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron and offered a slice of Americana with "Home Sweet Home" painted on them.
"Volunteering gave me a sense of accomplishment and I really appreciated working with the people," said Master Sgt. William Ezero, the 376th ESFS Visitor Control Center NCO in charge. "I have been a part of the Habitat for Humanity back home and really enjoyed the opportunity to do it while I was deployed."
"To me, I would rather come and help out than to just sit around (on my free time)," said Airman 1st Class Brandon Edwards, a 376th Expeditionary Logistics Squadron air and transportation specialist.
That type of service before self helps make a difference in the community.
"I can't explain my feelings for how grateful I am for all the help we had from the base volunteers," said Mr. Moldobaev.
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