Hugs, handshakes, smiles
Staff Sgt. Tina Talamantes clips a flower hairclip in a girl’s hair at the Nizhanchuisk Orphanage and School, Kyrgyzstan, Oct. 13, 2011. Talamantes was one of six Manas Air Benefit Outreach Society Airmen who visited the orphanage to paint, deliver donations and play with the children. The society provides charitable donations, goods and services to people and organizations in the areas surrounding the Transit Center at Manas. Talamantes is a 376th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron patrolman and is the MABOS Nizhanchuisk Orphanage alternate focus group leader. The native of Steeleville, Ill., is deployed to the Transit Center from MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Tammie Moore)
Hugs, handshakes, smiles

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

10/17/2011 - TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, Kyrgyzstan -- Children on a recess break eagerly greeted six Airmen from the Transit Center at Manas visiting the Nizhanchuisk Orphanage and School with hugs, handshakes and smiles Oct. 13.

The Airmen, part of the Manas Area Benefit Outreach Society, traveled to the school to paint a gazebo and playground equipment, deliver donations, and play with the children.

MABOS is a private organization established in 2003 as a means for Airmen deployed to the Transit Center to aid organizations and people in the areas surrounding the installation. The Nizhanchuisk Orphanage is one of two orphanages MABOS helps.

Senior Airman April Stinton is the Nizhanchuisk Orphanage primary focus group leader for MABOS. She has been to the orphanage five times.

"I'm responsible for organizing the trips and (fostering) the relationship between (MABOS) and the orphanage so we know what they need and what they would like to have done," said Stinton, a 376th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron patrolman.

If the orphanage children need school supplies, clothing, hygiene or other items, Stinton does her best to help coordinate a delivery. During her time working with the Nizhanchuisk Orphanage she has overseen the delivery of two washing machines, the collection of funds for stove plates, the donation of blankets and the completion of other small projects.

"We're trying to complete the small jobs right now while we wait on the bigger projects to go through (the approval process)," said Stinton, deployed from Cheyenne Mountain, Colo.

Most of the children don't live at the Nizhanchuisk Orphanage year round.

"Only a few are actually orphans," said Stinton, an Orlando native. Most of the children here have parents who are either in jail, can't afford to support them, or have passed away. So the children stay at the orphanage from September until the end of the school year when they return to their family (or guardians).

When Stinton began helping at the orphanage, the children were on summer break. So the MABOS members spent their time painting the school and dormitory walls and floors.

"I think the most exciting part (of volunteering here) was being able to meet the kids," Stinton said. "I used to work with kids before I joined the military so they are very special to my heart. I can be having a bad day and when I walk in a classroom, that is gone because the kids just put a smile on my face."

Staff Sgt. Tina Talamantes, the Nizhanchuisk Orphanage alternate focus group leader, also has a soft spot in her heart for children. This was her second trip to the orphanage. She wanted to bring gifts, so she bought flower hairclips for the girls and bouncy balls for the boys.

"I just wanted to do something nice for them because I know the simple stuff makes them smile," said Talamantes, a 376th ESFS patrolman. "Today was actually my first time meeting the kids so just seeing their faces and how excited they got put a smile on my face."

The time and effort MABOS Airmen have put into helping the orphanage and the children has not gone unnoticed.

"As many times as you come, our children are still excited like to see you -- just like the first time that you came," said the Nizhanchuisk Orphanage director.

Talamantes, deployed here from MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., encourages Airmen at the Transit Center to spend their deployed time helping others.

"MABOS is a good organization," said the native of Steeleville, Ill. "Everyone deployed here should get out, to be involved in the community and try to help others."

Orphanages are not the only organizations MABOS supports.

"There are other places Airmen can help out not involving children like the women's crisis center," Stinton said. "Little things like painting the floor or something small helps out in a big way. It is really rewarding."

Before the Airmen left the orphanage, all the children in unison yelled out, "Thank you!"