PATTAYA, Thailand (NNS) -- Sailors from submarine tender USS Emory S. Land (AS 39) teamed with the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) to help improve the quality of life for children at Child Protection and Development Center (CPDC) during a community service project in Pattaya, Thailand July 28.
The Child Protection and Development Center (CPDC) is part of the Human Help Network Foundation Thailand, a non-profit organization for children's rights and education.
Construction on the CPDC began in 2008, and it has now grown in to a spacious permanent residence for up to 60 children, many with a history of poverty and abuse.
"It gives meaning to our lives, to give a new life to the children, to see them play and laugh and build trust," said volunteer guest coordinator Scheree Wilkie. "Sailors represent strong, positive role models, and just by being here and accepting the children and giving them attention, it makes a world of difference."
That world of difference was made up of small deeds throughout the day. Land and RTN Sailors worked together to conduct maintenance in the vegetable garden and fish pond, and then joined the children for outdoor games and lunch.
"We didn't even need words to communicate; we worked and played together and built a bond based on the children, on seeing them laugh and enjoy themselves," said Logistics Specialist Seaman Ryan Lubig, a volunteer assigned to Land.
"We enjoy building a relationship with U.S. Navy Sailors, and sharing this experience," said Cmdr. Charoen Rattanahiran, Frigate Squadron 2, RTN. "We can show the children that people from all over the world care about them."
Land's religious ministries department worked together with the center and The Navy League of the United States, Siam Council, to put the event together. 14 Land Sailors and 16 RTN sailors volunteered their liberty time to perform maintenance and socialize with the children.
"The volunteers are the real heart of this center," said Lt. Aaron Roberton, Land's command chaplain. "They offer their own time to make a difference in the lives of others. It's been a blessing to see them to come together and bring hope and kindness to the children."
Wilkie explained that through the generosity of volunteers, the CPDC has flourished and grown from its humble beginnings. Materials and donations are necessary and welcome, but they can't replace the value of a smile.
"The Sailor's impact is going to last far beyond one day," she said. "They gave the children the gifts of acceptance and attention. That is the most important thing to them; it's the first step in a bright new future."
Land is in Thailand conducting a coordinated tended mooring with USS Buffalo (SSN 715) as part of a theater security cooperation and good will mission in the region. Land, homeported in Diego Garcia, is on an extended deployment to Guam, conducting coordinated tended moorings and afloat maintenance in the U.S. 7th fleet area of operations.
To learn more about USS Emory S. Land, visit www.as39.navy.mil or www.facebook.com/emorysland.
For more news from USS Emory S. Land (AS 39), visit www.navy.mil/local/as39/.