Thursday, January 14, 2010

An Indian girl’s journey from begging to giving

Dear friends of Iskashitaa and Balamani Mariana Madden:

Balamani, a volunteer with Barbara Eiswerth and Iskashitaa for 4 years is asking for your support. This year she was nominated Youth Volunteer of the Year for her tireless efforts helping refugees in the community and assisting in many aspects of work with Iskashitaa Refugee Harvesting Network. More importantly she gives selflessly to put a smile on my faces and hundreds others as well as bring tears to our eyes. In fact, right now, I am having trouble typing for just that reason. Her life story is aptly entitled “An Indian girl’s journey from begging to giving”.

I cannot think of a more well deserving youth for recognition and education through international travel. I am honored to have worked with and learned from her over the years.

Thank you Balamani for sharing of yourself.

Dear friends please support me by voting on my digital video, it’s a 2 minute video of my life and how I help others in my community.

U.S State Department Exchanges Connect Video Contest Change Your Climate, Change Our World." Your "climate" is not only the air you breathe, but also the people, places, and relationships that affect your daily life. Tell us in a video what you or someone you know is doing to make your community a better place, and in the process, contributing to a healthier, safer, cleaner, and more peaceful world. The four (4) winners will receive the grand prize: an all-expense-paid, approximately two-week cultural exchange program to the United States or from the United States to a country to be determined.

I have put in a lot of work making this video just for two minutes. Even if I do not win, I am proud of myself and inspired by making it.

You will need to sign in and register on the site to watch and rate the video if you need more information, email me thank you for your support. The Deadline for rating is January 26th, 2010.

Mariana Madden has submitted this video entitled Volunteering is a Simple Gift” to the Exchanges Connect 2009 Video Contest the thumbnail shows a picture of Balamani Mariana and her parents. Please sign in to rate this video

Time is precious; use your time to make a difference in the world. When I was in India, I used to go door to door with a bowl begging for food and money, but was often turned away with a grumbling stomach, not knowing when I would be able to eat another meal again.

At a very young age, my birth mother was murdered. Losing my mother was an experience no young child should face. In a strange way, I found freedom through the pain. My mother gave life to me twice, the first time when I was born, the second time when she died.

I was put in two orphanages and later adopted by an American couple, who became my parents. The opportunity of being in a family and the having a free education helped me revel myself and open doors I had shut for many years.

Because of my life experiences, I wanted to help those who have experienced similar hardships. When I was sixteen, I started volunteering with Iskash*taa Refugee Harvesting Network. For the past four years, I have helped harvest and distribute backyard produce that feeds refugee families, sell refugee artwork, teach refugees English, and present at public events. I welcome many young refugees to be part of my family, being there for them when they need someone to talk to, or just a safe place to be.

I also work with refugee and immigrant students at school as part of the Finding Voice Project, where I share my voice through writing, photography and digital stories to empower other youth to share their voices to make a difference in their communities.

Volunteering to me is an important and simple gift I can give as unconditional love to my community.


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