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Orphanage benefits from airmen’s skillsets

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Matthew Mays, an engineering assistant with the 139th Civil Engineer Squadron, Missouri Air National Guard works on landscaping alongside soldiers from the Latvian National Armed Forces during the reconstruction of the Naujenu Orphanage near Daugavpils, Latvia, July 20, 2015.  The 139th CE was participating in the Humanitarian Civic Assistance project that pairs units training requirements with humanitarian needs.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Patrick P. Evenson/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Matthew Mays, an engineering assistant with the 139th Civil Engineer Squadron, Missouri Air National Guard works on landscaping alongside soldiers from the Latvian National Armed Forces during the reconstruction of the Naujenu Orphanage near Daugavpils, Latvia, July 20, 2015. The 139th CE was participating in the Humanitarian Civic Assistance project that pairs units training requirements with humanitarian needs. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Patrick P. Evenson/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Matthew Mays, an engineering assistant with the 139th Civil Engineer Squadron, Missouri Air National Guard, plays with a Latvian orphan during a volleyball game at the Naujenu Orphanage near Daugavpils, Latvia, July 20, 2015. The Airmen were renovating the orphanage as part of a Humanitarian Civic Assistance project that pairs units training requirements with humanitarian needs. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Patrick P. Evenson/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Matthew Mays, an engineering assistant with the 139th Civil Engineer Squadron, Missouri Air National Guard, plays with a Latvian orphan during a volleyball game at the Naujenu Orphanage near Daugavpils, Latvia, July 20, 2015. The Airmen were renovating the orphanage as part of a Humanitarian Civic Assistance project that pairs units training requirements with humanitarian needs. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Patrick P. Evenson/Released)

DAUGAVPILS, Latvia -- U.S. Airmen from the Missouri Air National Guard's 139th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) are renovating a children's orphanage in Latvia, July 9 - 25, 2015.

The mission is part of a Humanitarian Civic Assistance (HCA) program sponsored by U.S. European Command (EUCOM).

The orphanage will house two groups of ten children, providing a family unit structure and necessary life skills training. The HCA project was awarded to the Daugavpils Orphanage from a nomination process with the Office Defense Corporation, valued at $195,000; the orphanage is one of the 21 projects that will be completed this fiscal year.

This reconstruction project also allows for the older orphans in the current housing unit to be repurposed for mothers with children in crisis.

Ms. Lilita Gasjaneca, director of the orphanage said, "These children don't need you to feel sorry for them, they don't need gifts, they need love."

Gasjaneca said her focus is on life skills for the youth, and organizing a center to assist parents to get the help they need to be able to reunite with their children.

Daugavpils Orphanage was established in 1966, partnered with another local orphanage in 1991 and currently shelters 53 children. The orphanage hosts children that have been removed from their homes, mothers with children in crisis, and those children who do not have parents.