***image1***In early October, Army, Navy and Air Force members deployed to the Republic of Georgia, with the bold goal of purchasing schoolbooks and a washing machine that were greatly needed at a local orphanage in Tbilisi.
That orphanage is home to more than 80 Georgian children ranging in age from 4 to 18.
“We started looking around to see where there was a need and how we could make a difference” said the commander, Lt. Col. A.J. Haysman, Georgia Air National Guard.
“When we first visited the orphanage it was difficult to get them to tell us what their needs were; they were embarrassed at the amount of money it would take to restore adequate washing facilities,” explained Maj. David Brown, Georgia Army National Guard.
The average income in Tbilisi, the capitol city of Georgia, is 450 lari or about $250 to $300 a month, making items like washing machines a major investment. Two out of the three machines they did have were broken, and they did not have the resources to hire a mechanic for repairs.
“We ended up raising over $1,000,” said Tech. Sgt. Julie Huston, an Air Force deployed radio technician from the 86th Air and Space Communications Group, Ramstein. The money went into a new washing machine, 1,000 lari worth of books and there was still some left to repair the broken washing machines.
“The response that we have received has been incredible. It was amazing to see the joy on the children’s faces, but I really am not sure who had the best time, the kids or the troops,” said Colonel Haysman.
The contributing members of the Georgia Sustainment and Stability Operations Program are a diverse group of Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen hailing from the Georgia (state) Army and Air National Guard, the 1st Combat Communications Squadron at Ramstein, the 212th Combat Support Hospital at Miesau, and the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, Md. The GSSOP mission provides assistance and training to Georgians as they work to maintain stability in their country.