SIAULIAI, Lithuania — Lithuanian and American service members worked together to make an orphanage here safer and more beautiful for its children.
Army Reserve Soldiers from the 7th Mission Support Command helped coordinate the construction of a new fence, gate and sign for the ‘infant’ or ‘baby’ orphanage with Army Reserve Soldiers from the 412th Theater Engineer Command, Lithuanian Soldiers and Airmen, and contractors from Aug. 8 to 25.
The four Soldiers from the 7th MSC’s 457th Civil Affairs Battalion, out of Longare, Italy, and 10 Soldiers from the 375th Engineer Company, out of Huntsville, Alabama, worked side-by-side with six Lithuanian Airmen and Soldiers and contractors each day to construct the new fence.
“The old fence was built almost fifty years ago,” said Audrone Kardasiene, the orphanage director. “It had broken pieces and it was heavy, and the new one is beautiful. I am amazed with the work they did and how [well] they communicated with the Lithuanian Soldiers.”
The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new fence took place on Thursday, Aug. 25, and was attended by more than 40 people, including the mayor of Siauliai and Christopher Volciak, the acting deputy chief of mission for the U.S. Embassy in Lithuania.
The ‘baby’ orphanage or ‘infants’ home facility runs on donations only, relying on the community to support children who range from infants up to 6 years old, including children with special needs, according to Sgt. Elizabeth Prairie, with Co. A, 457th Civil Affairs Battalion.
The facility has a 50 percent adoption rate, she said. It is currently home to 55 children.
“One of our accomplishments was we were able to bring out an interpreter for the engineers to better interact with the local national contractors,” said Spc. Stephanie Lish, civil affairs specialist, 457th Civil Affairs Battalion, Co. A.
The civil affairs team also coordinated with the Lithuanians to obtain a commemorative plaque designed and donated by a local sign company.
“It was fantastic to see how excited the kids were to see the Soldiers and to play with them and receive their attention,” she said.
Lithuanian Air Force Air Base Public Affairs Officer Capt. Ieva called the project an, “example of military and civilian cooperation at its best.”