USS Mustin, 7th Fleet Band Reach Out to Local Community in Cambodia
SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia -- Equipped with trumpets, tubas, donated clothes, Hula-Hoops, toys and lots of energy, Sailors from USS Mustin (DDG 89) and the 7th Fleet Orient Express Band visited the Goodwill School, a local charity organization aimed at educating children in Sihanoukville, Cambodia on Dec. 4.
From the moment the Sailors arrived, they engaged in activities with the children playing games, coloring, drawing pictures and entertaining them with a free concert while making new friends.
“This entire event by the 7th Fleet Band and USS Mustin Sailors has been great,” said Sabine Nerling, operations manager of the Goodwill School. “While I personally love the music the band is playing, I think it far more important and so special for the children. I think in their lives, this might be the first time for many of them that they have ever heard live music or been able to see first hand musical instruments and the Sailors are just amazing with the children. I think this is an event that these young people will remember for their whole life.”
Created in 2004, the Goodwill school initially served as a school to teach English to local children, it has sense evolved into a local community center where children can come and participate in educational and extra curricular activities. While it is not a substitute for the public education system in Cambodia, it offers local children a place to study, learn social skills and participate in recreational activities.
For Vall Colle, the trustee of the Help the Cambodian Children, which the Goodwill School is supported by, said she was very pleased with the day’s events.
“Just looking around at all of the smiling faces and seeing all of the high-fives hand slaps between Sailors and the children, I think it is absolutely fantastic,” Colle said. “We are really grateful and it means an awful lot to our organization and to the children. What you have all done here today it is quite amazing. We are a very small organization and for you all to come spend your personal time and to donate all of the lovely things is greatly appreciated.”
As Colle walked back to Goodwill School after observing a volleyball match with Mustin’s Sailors and local children she said the Sailors had no idea what today’s event meant to the children.
“This was awesome. It was a great chance to meet the children, who were great, and it was a great opportunity us to get out into the community and show some support while we are here as their guest,” said Chief Operations Specialist (SW) Stacy Johnson from Chicago. “It is nice to know that we are making a difference when we visit ports, because every little bit helps, and just from the smiles I saw today, I think we’ve accomplished that.”
Following the community service project Mustin’s Sailors said they appreciated having the opportunity to visit the school and said that it was the interaction with the children and the feeling of making a difference that brought it all together for them.
“I could have stayed there all day,” said Operations Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Edward Smith from Jacksonville, Fla. “Today really opened my eyes up to what the Navy talks about when it says that we are ambassadors to our country. It makes me feel proud that I am assigned to a ship with Sailors who have just as big of hearts as me and want to make a difference in the world.”