With all the delights that Pattaya has to offer the US Marines, who are in the area for the joint Cobra Gold military exercises, many found time to give back to the local society and perform community service at the Father Ray Children’s Village and the Redemptorist Vocational School for People with Disabilities.
Whilst ploughing the land at the Village the Marines were visited by US Marine Corps Major General Peter Talleri. The Major General praised each and every member of the visiting group for their generosity in giving their time to help prepare the land which will provide food or the 850 children currently living at the Father Ray Foundation.
Experiencing life in a wheelchair is hard work for the US Marines.
The following day a second group of US Marines visited the students with disabilities and taught English, giving the students a chance to listen to and understand different accents and learn about life in the United States.
Once the English class was over the US Marines were each given a wheelchair or a set of crutches and asked to experience what life can be like living with a disability. Not as easy as it seems and it got even more difficult when they all tried to enter a local convenience store to buy refreshments. In single file they entered; then there was a traffic jam when one Marine’s chair got stuck on the aisle and then there was gridlock. Fortunately they were able to find a solution and eventually made their way to the exit.
Making new friends at the Vocational School.
Back at the school a game of wheelchair basketball saw eight Marines play against five of the best players Pattaya has and the game ended in a draw.
Then the Marines surprised everyone when the whistle was blown to start the game of takraw. Not many visitors to the school have agreed to play against the local Thai students, but the Marines played an excellent game, worrying the students who thought they would easily beat the visitors.
The annual Cobra Gold military exercises are a serious business, and, even though Pattaya has many attractions to entertain the personnel, it is gratifying to see that these young men and women want to give their free time to help others.
The Marines play a good game, but not good enough to win.
US Marine Corps Major General Talleri discusses the importance of the work they are undertaking.
Working the land on the Father Ray Farm.