ENTEBBE, Uganda (SSG Timothy Chacon) – The Special Tactics Airmen of the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron are showing that even in the challenging conditions of a deployment, time can still be made to give back to those in need.
In less than a month, combat controllers assigned to the 22nd STS were able to help raise more than $20,000 for the Malayaka House orphanage in Entebbe, Uganda.
“We started off teaching the kids [physical training] exercises,” said Capt. Jack Ambridge, 22nd STS special tactics officer. “Then we asked what else we could do. We asked them to make a list of things they need and not to be afraid to ask for big stuff.”
The staff of the Malayaka House asked, and the 22nd STS delivered. Using only their personal contacts, the money was raised quickly.
“We just started by asking people we knew back home, and it took off really fast,” said Ambridge. “We found the right people at the right time.”
The mission of the Malayaka House is not only to house the children, but to educate and train them. The 30 children range in ages from infants to 14 years old.
The improvements for the house are not only aesthetic ones. Some money will be spent on necessary comforts like beds and blankets, while some will go toward creating a safer home with updated plumbing and new appliances to replace dangerous and outdated ones.
Beyond that, the combat controllers are also providing new gutters, playground equipment, school supplies and a fish farming system to create a self-sustainable, reliable source of protein for growing children.
“Most of the work on the house will be done by the children,” said Ambridge. “It helps teach them skills that they can use later in life.”
“They will be installing a rain water collection system, which will allow them to not rely on water from the city. They often lose power and are unable to use the city water system,” said Ambridge. “They are also installing new appliances. The old stove would leak gas and shoot out flames. The [caretakers] were washing things by hand, which takes away from the time they can spend with the kids.”
Working with the Malayaka House was not part of their mission in Africa, but the Special Tactics Airmen took it upon themselves to reach out.
“We had a desire to find people in need while we are here,” said Ambridge. “We want to help the community, as opposed to just watching.”
The Special Tactics mission in Africa focuses on airfield assessment, which makes austere locations more accessible to local governments and humanitarian organizations for future operations and disaster relief.
Special Tactics combat controllers are the Air Force’s special operations ground forces, and Special Operations Command’s air integration force. Combat controllers deploy, undetected, into combat and hostile environments to establish assault zones or airfields, while simultaneously conducting air traffic control, fire support, command and control, direct action, counter-terrorism, foreign internal defense, humanitarian assistance and special reconnaissance in the joint arena.
“I’m so proud of these Airmen, to volunteer their precious time outside of an already demanding, high operations tempo, to dramatically impact the lives of these children in great need,” said Chief Master Sgt. Jeff Guilmain, 22nd STS superintendent. “These acts of kindness above and beyond the call of duty make me a proud Airman, and American.”