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U.S. service members participate in Operation Good Samaritan

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kenneth W. Norman
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
Imagine not knowing if your next meal was guaranteed. You sleep in a room packed with other children, there is no running water, your bathroom is just a hole in the ground and to top it off you have no parents.

The conditions above are exactly how the 23 children of the Good Samaritan Orphanage were living before Maj. Christopher Pace, 58th Airlift Squadron C-17 Globemaster III instructor pilot, and other service members deployed to Uganda, started collecting donations and making regular visits to the orphanage to improve the quality of life for the children. The service members call their mission Operation Good Samaritan.

"We take them food, usually once a week, as well as take any packages people send to help support their needs," Pace said. "We are about to begin some structural improvements, to include plumbing, electrical improvements, building dorms, and overall just improve their current living conditions; which are very poor."

Helping people in need and making a difference is something that Pace has always valued.

"I love volunteering when I can, especially when you can see a change," Pace said. "Whatever I do, work or on my spare time, I want to make a difference. It is important while we are deployed to these locations to do what we can to help the community. We take a lot of things for granted when we are in America. When you take these kids something as simple as a soccer ball, their faces light up like its Christmas day. That's what I really enjoy."

Pace and the other service members are members of the AFRICOM Counter-Lord's Resistance Army Control Element. Their mission is to advise and assist the militaries of Uganda, the Central African Republic, the Republic of South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to eliminate the threat to civilians and regional stability posed by the Lord's Resistance Army.

"My specific duty title is the J3 Air for the ACCE." Pace said. "I am in charge of all the air assets in support of the mission."

Pace became involved with the orphanage after another member of the ACCE discovered the orphanage and brought it to his attention.

"Since then, I have created a Facebook page, an e-mail account and a PayPal account to gather donations that come in," Pace said. "I also go over on a weekly basis to spend time with the kids and help with the facility improvements."

When Pace and the other service members went to visit the orphanage on Aug. 19, 2012, they realized the kids had run out of food. For less than $100, they were able to supply food to the 23 children for three weeks.

"As much as I don't like asking for monetary donations, that is probably what they need the most," Pace said. "Whether it's a small or large donation, it goes along way. A donation of $25 will pay their electric bill for a month. Goods are also very much appreciated."

Things such as soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, toilet paper; and school supplies including paper, pencils, chalk, and children's books are much needed.

"It's hard not to get emotional when you spend time with the kids and see their reactions," Pace said. "You just want to help in any way possible. There are so many orphanages just like this in this area. I hope when I and this group leave,s the movement continues and we can help other orphanages in the area."

Photographs and videos of the orphanage are available on the Operation Good Samaritan Facebook page, which is linked to this article.