Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel have contributed to a significant school project during a visit to Phuket, Thailand.
Personnel from the Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019 (IPE19) Joint Task Force laid turf and built a playground at the Cornerstone Learning Centre in blistering conditions.
The Asia Centre Foundation is building the facility with the help of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australian aid program.
Foundation Director Roelien Muller said the Cornerstone Learning Centre would help Thai families who travelled to Phuket to find employment but fell on hard times.
“Many mothers end up working in the night clubs and bars, leaving their children at home to fend for themselves,” Mrs Muller said.
“There is a lot of danger here – trafficking and the sex industry, alcohol and drugs.”
British businessman Nigel Woolgrass, who lost his wife in the 2004 tsunami, donated the land on which the school is being built.
Construction started in 2017 and the completed school will be able to accommodate about 250 students.
The Deputy Defence Attaché to Thailand, Royal Australian Navy Commander Paul Welch, said Australians had an affinity with the Thai people.
“We have a great relationship with Thailand and it’s important we lend a hand when we can,” Commander Welch said.
“It’s the right thing to do in supporting the Asia Centre Foundation; we can help make a difference in Thai children’s lives.”
The ADF members were treated to a small cultural show and a Muay Thai demonstration by the children to say thanks for a job well done.