Teak Mint participants visit orphanage in Malaysia
By Tech. Sgt. Kristine Dreyer, 353rd Special Operations Group Public Affairs
/ Published June 18, 2015
KUALA LUMPUR, Maylaysia --
Participants of the Joint Chief of Staff Teak Mint exercise visited the Rumah Kasih Hormoni Orphanage near Kuala Lumpur, Malayasia, June 6, 2015.
Members of the 353rd Special Operations Group, the 36th Airlift Squadron and the Royal Malaysian Air Force collected more than $1,000 to donate clothes and games. They also helped clean up and make repairs around the orphanage.
“Our combined improvement effort gives the 353rd SOG an opportunity to understand Malaysian culture, aid an indigent community, and boost the spirits of underprivileged children, all while forging strong ties with the men and women of the RMAF,” said Maj. Michael S. Perry, Teak Mint 15-1 mission commander and evaluator pilot at the 17th Special Operations Squadron.
In between working, Teak Mint participants were able to spend a little time with the children from the orphanage. While the children seemed to enjoy the visitors, the volunteers benefited from the experience just as much.
“My favorite part of TDYs has and always will be the building of community relations. It’s one of those things that bring genuine happiness to everyone involved,” said Staff. Sgt. Tan Pham, 353rd Special Operations Maintenance Squadron, integrated instrument and flight control systems craftsman. “I definitely enjoyed this one in particular because of how welcoming the children and staff of the orphanage were to the Malaysian Air Force and all of us throughout the day as we worked together to improve the living conditions here and visit with the children.”
While visiting schools and orphanages during exercises around the Pacific has become a tradition for the 353rd Special Operations Group, they wanted to add a personal touch during this visit that would help the children remember them and encourage future visits. Perry, with the help a little help from his friends at the orphanage and the Royal Malaysian Air Force, planted a mango tree. As a group, they decided to name the tree ‘Teak Mango’.
“Teak Mango is symbolic of our desire to return, share the fruit, and build on the foundation we laid,” Perry said.
The Teak Mint participants enjoyed the interaction with the children and were most rewarded by the excitement the children shared with them that day.
“I am so happy because I can know you and your relationship with Rumah Kasih Harmoni,” said Sayafa, a 17-year-old girl from the orphanage. “Thanks for coming to Rumah Kasih Haromoni.”