Sailors from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 performed three days of community services for the Ban Jo Learning Center during their recent port visit to Phuket.
During the three separate days, Sailors were able to assist in painting the walls and doors, cleaning the yard of broken glass, and putting up chain-link fence to keep people out of the classrooms at night.
“People hop over the walls and take the children’s toys and things,” said Pat Michel, from the Rotary Club of Patong Beach, who organized the service project. “This is very important.”
According to Michel, the new learning center is only in its second year and has grown and flourished through the work of volunteers like the Sailors.
“The Navy comes once a year and we actually save projects for you,” Michel said. “It’s because of you this school looks the way it does today.”
What started as only brick walls, the learning center has grown over the past year and now has a roof, bars in the windows, chain-link fence where the walls are separated from the roof, clean painted walls, and brand new flooring in the classrooms.
“I was impressed by the work they got done in such a short time,” said Michel. “They helped enormously and they were cheerful the whole time.”
After painting, cleaning the yard and putting up the fence, the Sailors were able to sit, eat and visit with the children.
“Sometimes when you’re away from people you love for a long time, you question your reasons behind leaving,” said Boatswain’s Mate Seaman Vanessa McClelland, a Nimitz volunteer. “This is a huge reason why I joined the Navy and I feel so blessed to have been a part of it. I really hope to be able to participate in another opportunity like this at our next port.”