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TC Manas helps Nadjeshda support disabled children

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Carolyn Viss
  • 376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
The Airmen from the Transit Center at Manas are helping the Nadjeshda Children's Center, in Kyrgyzstan, by teaching them how to sign, draw, study, work and have fun as children all over the world do.

"The Nadjeshda Center makes the impossible, possible," said Sam Duechenbi, a German translator for Nadjeshda, who met with Airmen April 27, 2010, during a site visit. He said some of the children have autism, Down's Syndrome, and cerebral palsy; some are just physically handicapped. Some board at Nadjeshda; some go home to their parents at night. But they all benefit from the myriad therapy techniques provided by the Children's Center.

"Many Kyrgyz people didn't believe these children were able to be educated or rehabilitated," he explained. But thanks to the volunteers and paid staff at Nadjeshda, all the children now have a chance at a new life. One former student now attends technical school, and another recently started college at the American University, thanks to the care they were able to receive, he said.

Funded by Germans, the Center now hosts 60 children and teenagers, ages 2 to 21, who are disabled in different ways.

U.S. Airmen have supported Nadjeshda for the last six years, helping rebuild and repair the facility and spending time with the children, according to Master Sgt. Weisa Hurley, the Manas Area Benefits Outreach Society focus group leader for this center. During her deployment, she has assisted in the interactions between Nadjeshda and the Transit Center.

"We were able to bring (the civil engineers) out to help repair a fence outside the playground," Sergeant Hurley said. The fence was a big improvement, because after the instatement of the playground many neighborhood drug dealers and people abusing alcohol would sneak in and use the Center's property for drug sales. It had become a dangerous place for the children, and the Center almost had to stop allowing children to play outside because of the security issue. Now, however, the children are able to make use of the outdoor facilities - including a new outhouse - to get not only the sunshine but also the therapy they need.

In all, the number of staff members almost totals the number of children who attend the Center, Duechenbi said. There are approximately 55 people employed there.
Additionally, there are several German volunteers who have made Nadjeshda their focus to fulfill two years of government-mandated civil service.

"The school can get grants for the building and some school supplies," Sergeant Hurley said, "but there is no money for the salaries of the employees."

Airmen have donated diapers, soap, shampoo, and art supplies, but are looking for ways to creatively raise money for these teachers' salaries to be paid so that children can continue to receive quality therapy and, in some cases, become well-educated and employed citizens. Their latest idea is to help sell some of the children's arts and crafts, to raise not only funds but also awareness of the organization, which now hosts "adult children" workshops for people ages 18 to 27 who still need therapy.

"Some of the art work I've seen is just incredible," said Jeff Villemarette, an Airman from the Transit Center who has visited Nadjeshda twice now. "I had the best time here today."

For more information, or to donate to Nadjeshda, visit