Combat Surgical Hospital team reaches out to Georgian kids
October 8, 2003
KRTSANISI, Georgia — Members of Combat Surgical Hospital team have been putting their medical skills to work in the local community.
On Monday, for example, they planned to inoculate 600 children against hepatitis A. They also have been active at a local Tbilisi orphanage.
About once a week some of the team members, along with Marines who are part of the Georgia Training and Equip Program, go into town with clothes and toys they’ve either purchased or had donated and visit the children. The boy and girls were left at the orphanage after their parents, often due to prostitution or substance abuse, could no longer care for them.
“This is something that helps me when I miss my own kids,” said Sgt. Sonny Apperson, an operating room technician and father of three.
On Sunday, Apperson and Staff Sgt. Brian McCoy, a licensed practical nurse, brought a dozen stuffed animals to the kids, and Spc. David Becker, a unit medic, played catch using a Nerf football he had brought.
There are about 60 kids at the orphanage, which is financed with private and corporate donations. Some kids have scholarships to private schools in Tbilisi, and others learn how to make dresses and shoes, which are sold to pay for operating expenses at the orphanage.
As soon as the soldiers come through the gate Sunday at the orphanage located on a side street, they were mobbed by children who wanted to play soccer, football, practice their English and show their handicrafts.
The soldiers are often asked for extra help.
One of the plaster walls has crumbled. Could they fix it? Apperson said he would see if he could get some of the shipping crates that Kellogg Brown & Root used to ship equipment to the training camp to make the repairs.
Some of the children need shoes. Can they bring them the next time?
And one of the teenage boys is complaining of extreme chest pain.
Apperson asks to see the boy. After a couple of questions he suspects the boy has asthma, a common condition in Tbilisi where many people have poor hygiene and there is a lot of pollution.
“I’ll see what I can do,” he said. “I’ll get the doctor out to take a look.”