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Airmen volunteer, make friends in Krygzy communities
Tech. Sgt. Michal Pietkiewicz gives a child a plane ride at the Belovodosky Orphanage during a Manas Area Benefit Outreach Society visit Nov. 28, 2011. Pietkiewicz is a member of MABOS, which is a private, nonprofit volunteer organization that works with local charities to support the greater Bishkek area and communities near the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan. Pietkiewicz is a 376th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle maintenance supervisor deployed from Stewart Air National Guard Base, N.Y. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Tammie Moore)
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Airmen volunteer, make friends in Kyrgyz communities

Posted 12/1/2011   Updated 12/2/2011 Email story   Print story


by Tech. Sgt. Tammie Moore
376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

12/1/2011 - TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, Kyrgyzstan  -- When some people deploy they focus on bettering their fitness or achieving educational and promotion goals; others dedicate their time to helping in their new communities.

The Manas Area Benefit Outreach Society was created in 2003 for those deployed here to assist the people of Kyrgyzstan. It is the largest private organization at the Transit Center and provides assistance to nine area groups. 

MABOS supports the Belovodosky Orphanage, the Nizhanchuisk Orphanage, Center for the People, Children's Cancer Center, Children's Heart Ward, WWII Veterans Assistance Program, Babushka Elderly Foundation, Sizim Women's Crisis Center and the Social Village, said Master Sgt. Leenette Joseph, 376th Air Expeditionary Wing Equal Opportunity Office director. "These are the organizations we support on a monthly basis; however, sometimes we get additional requests to support other causes or individuals from the community. Those individual projects are considered by the executive council for 'one-time-only' assistance."

Joseph decided to become involved with MABOS as a way to give back to the community.

"Working with MABOS opened my eyes to how grateful people are when we show up at their doorsteps," said Joseph, deployed from Barksdale Air Force Base, La. "In the military we are in the business of serving; we serve our country, and what better way to do this than to build upon relationships between Americans and Kyrgyz people and providing assistance to a greater cause."

MABOS donations come from membership fees, fundraisers and the volunteers. Transit Center Airmen donate everything from school supplies, clothing, toys and personal funds in support of the organizations currently sponsored by MABOS.

"Since I became the MABOS president 50 days ago, we have donated $5,454 and more than 500 hours in the Kyrgyz community," Joseph said. "We will continue to assist as long as the community needs us. The most impressive thing we've done is to reach out to underprivileged children waiting for heart surgery. Since 2003, through MABOS financial support, 171 children have received heart surgeries and are living healthy, fulfilling lives."

Staff Sgt. Brittany Lawson is an active member of MABOS and the Belovodosky Orphanage focus group leader.

"I joined MABOS because I love working with kids of all ages and I wanted to learn about the local culture; the best way to do that is to get out in it," said Lawson, a 376th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron weather forecaster. "It is so rewarding to see the smiles on all the faces of whoever we are visiting and knowing that our donations are helping the local community."

Joseph encourages those deployed to the Transit Center to attend a meeting and see what the organization is about.

"If you are ready to make a difference in someone's life but you are not sure how to do it or how to get started, then MABOS is the place for you," she said. "MABOS gives you the tools and guidance ... all you have to do is give your time. We provide the opportunity to help in so many ways, from spending time with the elderly, playing with children at orphanages or cancer clinics, or sharing stories with WWII veterans we have it all. I guarantee the sense of satisfaction you will experience is invaluable."

Lawson said she finds volunteering with MABOS rewarding both personally and spiritually.

"It is a way to get away from the everyday 'deployment life,'" said Lawson, deployed from Eglin AFB, Fla. "I wish I could spend every minute that I am not working with a MABOS organization trying to improve the lives of the locals who are graciously letting us share their country."

Despite the rewards that come with leading MABOS, Joseph admits she experiences challenges too.

"The most challenging part about running the organization has been prioritizing who needs the most assistance," she said. "You want to help everyone, but unfortunately, we don't always have the resources or funds to say 'yes' to every single request. I wish we did."

Joseph attributes MABOS successes to the hard work and efforts of the young service members who are involved in the organization.

"These Airmen and Soldiers, some with less than five years in the military, have made phone calls, solicited donations and done amazing things for the organizations we support," Joseph said. "An example of that is during my last trip to the Belovodosky Orphanage, we donated 50 blankets, clothes and supplies to the 110 children in the institution. None of this would have been possible without the motivated focus group leaders."

MABOS is in the process of planning a local visit in observacne of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which is celebrated Dec. 3, and has been promoted by the United Nations since 1992.

"Our efforts are to create awareness for people with disabilities and to provide assistance," Joseph said. "We are donating bags of groceries and other household goods for 36 disabled single mothers and children. We are looking forward to the visit."

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