When she first headed for India from the USA, Jaclyn Mariano didn’t know that her unassuming journey would not only change her but also be a catalyst to changing the lives children in Shillong.
Jaclyn is a Psychology student from California who wanted to reach out to children living with various disabilities and help them lead a better life.
“I’ve always been passionate about working with children who have been through trauma and helping them see there is always a way to find happiness and achieve their goals. But more importantly, I wanted to show them that they are not alone.”
Jaclyn found out about Ferrando’s Center in Shillong, Meghalaya through a family friend. After some initial research, she started packing.
Ferrando’s Speech and Hearing Center in Shillong has worked for over 12 years to help children with a hearing impairment and other disabilities, adjust and evolve into living a normal life.
These children who fall in the age group of 3 -21, were their born deaf or with an intellectual disability. The center provides education and soft skills to these children so they can be empowered to be independent.
Jaclyn was a teaching assistant who helped out with other day-to-day activities at the center. She used her background in Psychology to counsel them and provide guidance for their future.
“The 6-month internship taught me lessons of a lifetime. I learned sign language slowly and developed a friendship with the kids there.”
Jaclyn’s period at the center was ending, but she didn’t want her impact to end too. She had used crowdfunding earlier in the USA and with her birthday approaching she decided to help the center with its shortage of funds.
As she left India, she started a fundraiser and raised almost Rs. 72,000 for tuition, boarding and lodging and other supplies to help the school.
I invited all my Facebook friends to donate and made a short video to highlight my experience and introduce my friends in the USA to the children they were helping. The fundraiser over-achieved its goal.
Jaclyn fondly remembers her time at the center.
“Before bedtime, we would gather and tell each other stories, take a lot of “selfies” and just enjoy each other’s company. At that point, language wasn’t even a barrier. We all had this connection to one another and they quickly became my family.”
Social Media: Jaclyn wrote about her volunteering experience on social media to engage her friends and family to care about the cause and offer help from across the world.
Student Network: Jaclyn used her university network to reach out to other young students and volunteers who might want to help. She fundraised after flying back to California and was able to enroll donors from a different geography to her cause!
This article is reprinted from Impact Guru with permission.