By Air Force Staff Sgt. April Lapetoda
Combined Joint Task Force – 82 Public Affairs
More than 100 Afghans who live near Bagram Airfield received donated supplies through Operation Care at the Elsalam (Egyptian) Field Hospital here May 10.
|Army Staff Sgt. Diovelis Ayala-Gore, 513th Military Intelligence Administrative Personnel noncommissioned officer in charge, shares a smile as Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer (ret) Reuben Breaux, 25th Signal Battalion circuit action specialist, hands an Afghan woman a bag of donated clothes. The clothes were one part of the donations delivered by Operation Care to the Elsalam (Egyptian) Field Hospital here May 10. In addition to clothes the volunteers also disbursed candy, toys and shoes. Operation Care is an all-volunteer organization made up of Air Force, Army, Marine and Navy servicemembers, as well as U.S. contractors. (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. April Lapetoda)|
Approximately 25 Operation Care volunteers, which consist of Air Force, Army, Marine and Navy servicemembers, as well as U.S. contractors, spent about two hours at the hospital giving out approximately 500 pairs of shoes, more than 350 bags of clothes, toys such as stuffed animals and molding clay, and a variety of candy.
“I think Operation Care is making a positive impact for people around Bagram,” said Army Sgt. Dustin Boyce, intelligence noncommissioned officer, 513th Military Intelligence Brigade. “I think a lot of these people are getting a lot of opportunities they wouldn’t if we weren’t here.”
The Egyptian hospital treats sick and injured Afghans on a regular basis and has certain days committed to seeing villagers, said Army Staff Sgt. James Shannon, Operations NCO, 160th Military Police Battalion. Shannon is the battalion’s desk sergeant and director of Operation Care. Operation Care coordinates its visits on these days to maximize the distribution of donations.
The Afghans, mainly women and children, were at the hospital to receive medical attention when they learned Operation Care would be disbursing items. As they entered the donation site, four to six people at a time, their faces expressed their thankfulness for the items.
All Operation Care volunteers found their own personal reward for volunteering.
“It was very satisfying,” said Boyce. “For the most part, people in the states are pretty well off, it’s really satisfying to help people. Going outside the wire and seeing how little they have makes me want to help.”
“I just like helping people,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Diane Payton, Task Force Med, Flight Chief of Surgical Services and Operation Care secretary. “It’s sad to see some of these children…they have nothing. They have no shoes on.”
Shannon also finds reward in personally seeing the people his efforts are helping.
“My overall goal for Operation Care is to better relations with U.S. forces and local Afghans, and to help the overall living conditions of Afghan people,” said Shannon.
Since its inception one year ago, Operation Care has delivered over 60 tons of goods to Afghans around Parwan province. All goods are donated by family, friends and churches in the United States.