LAEM CHABANG, Thailand – During their four-day visit to Thailand, crew members from the amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42) spent a day with orphans at the Abundant Life Home (ALH) on Feb. 22.
The community service (COMSERV) project was planned, organized and coordinated by Lt. Cmdr. Paul Kim, a Navy chaplain assigned to the Germantown’s command Chaplain, for 50 Germantown Sailors and Marines connect with orphans infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Shortly after the group’s arrival at the facility, the chaplain and the American Christian couple missionary, led the group in a prayer thanking the crew for coming out and spending their free time with the children.
“Although we come here to give and serve, but in-fact, the truth is we are taking more, for more than what we give,” said Kim based on his spiritual belief.
The group donated food supplies, a sport equipment and guitars purchased from a funds raised from a fund raiser..
“This is a great opportunity for the Navy and Marine Corps to come together and do work something positive for the community,” said Marine Capt. Rich Yudt, assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), “after hearing about this COMSERV, it inspired many of us, so we took advantage to reach out of these new people.”
The volunteers spend the day interacting with the children through music and games, while the rest of the team assisted in constructing an annex building to the facility.
Though the service members and the children of the orphanage spoke different languages, the language barrier did not hinder the day’s events.
“We do all our means that we need to do to get our words and communicate with the children,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Ronnie Magbitang, “language with the children wasn’t an issue. It was a reminder that our smile can be a better communicator than the voice.”
Germantown’s visit to Thailand is in conjunction with the completion of the ship’s participation in Cobra Gold 2011, a joint and coalition multinational exercise hosted annually by the Kingdom of Thailand.