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    ‘J’ is for Joy, Joy is for Jairala: The Joy of Helping Others

    ‘J’ is for Joy, Joy is for Jairala: The Joy of Helping Others

    Photo By Angel Martinez-Navedo | After being trained by medical staff on site, Union City, New Jersey native Staff Sgt....... read more read more

    LA PAZ, El Salvador – Someone once said “giving takes you out of yourself and allows you to expand beyond earthly limitations.”

    Well, Staff Sgt. Tatiana Jairala is not sure if she has been beyond earthly limitations, but she has definitely been beyond the horizons of Central America.

    Tatiana, a linguist from the 141st Military Intelligence Battalion out of Orem Armory, Utah and attached to Combined Joint Task Force – Hope, brought five duffle bags with her to El Salvador for the humanitarian assistance mission Beyond the Horizon. Bags one and two had military equipment and personal effects, but bags three to five were filled, for the most part, with clothes, school supplies and personal hygiene products to be donated at a Salvadoran community which might need them.

    She collected these items from family and friends, but the majority of the clothes were from her own closet. She even started several social fundraising accounts, but sadly, she only raised $150.

    Finally, after almost a month in country, a community was selected. Portillo El Cabral, a small hamlet at Canton El Carmen in La Paz, El Salvador. The community’s school was the venue for the event, and it was coordinated days in advanced by the task force’s Civil Affairs Team.

    “Believe it or not these things make a difference,” said the Union City, New Jersey native. "Most of these locations are far from access to basic needs that we take for granted every day.”

    Students were gathered in the hallway where Tatiana gave a short speech as well as the teachers to show their gratitude.

    “Thank you so much for everything you’ve done especially for our community Portillo El Cabral,” said one of the teachers. “This will benefit each and every one of the children’s families, and I know God will bless you back for all you are doing for us.”

    After students, parents and teachers grabbed what they needed, Tatiana had another surprise for them. Two backpacks filled with schools supplies for the boy and the girl with highest grades in the whole school.

    “I started doing the backpack thing back in 2013 for my BTH in Panama,” Tatiana said. “I was trying to find a fun way to motivate them to continue studying.”

    Tatiana seemed very organized throughout the whole process. Since she started asking for donations to the drop-off at the school, but this might have to do with this being her fifth BTH in the last eight years.

    It all started back in 2010 during Tatiana’s first BTH. She was assigned as a linguist to an engineer unit in charge of building a school at Puerto Barrios, a small costal city in the east side of Guatemala. Whenever she was not translating for the engineers, she was either helping them to lay cinder blocks, teaching English to local children or building rapport with other local nationals.

    One of those locals was Esmeralda, a 19-year-old mother-of-two who, at the time, was living next to the project Tatiana was assigned to.

    “One day I saw her walking by with canteen strapped to her waist,” tells Tatiana. "I asked her ‘where are you going?’ and she said she was going to the shopping center because she needed a skirt for the school’s opening ceremony.” Tatiana was shocked since the closest shopping center was hours away by foot.

    “I literally felt like dog poop,” Tatiana added. “We take so many things for granted, and here they are willing to walk three hours just to buy a piece of clothing.”

    It goes without saying they immediately became friends as soon as they met, and as friends often do, they talked about everything. But as they kept talking every day, their conversations became a bit more personal.

    Eventually, Esmeralda told her she was mistreated ever since she was a child, and that looking for a way out of situation, she decided to get married. The problem was her new husband turned out to be worse than her grandfather.

    Needless to say, Tatiana was devastated by the news, and asked her how she could help. But Esmeralda said nothing could be done since she depended on her husband for shelter; that it was either staying home with her husband or live on the streets.

    “She had no job, no money and nowhere to go,” exclaimed Tatiana. “I had to do something.”

    Tatiana reached deep into her savings, and gave her all she could afford at the moment... $600, which was approximately 5,500 Guatemalan quetzals at the time. That amount turned out to be enough to buy a patch of land and the materials to build a modest hut.

    “I gave her the money a few days before I left, and we kept in touch for years through her cousin, but unfortunately, she stopped calling around 2015."

    Now, eight years later after her encounter with Esmeralda, Tatiana has been using Beyond the Horizon as a tool to keep her personal vow of helping those in need as much as she can in order to pursue her happiness.

    BTH 2018 is an annual U.S. Army South and U.S. Southern Command's humanitarian and civic assistance program exercise deploying active Army, National Guard and Reserve Soldiers alongside service members from other branches of the US Military, and Salvadoran military and civic agencies which will bring vital services and resources to rural communities of the host nation.



    Date Taken: 07.21.2018
    Date Posted: 07.22.2018 22:26
    Story ID: 285271
    Location: LA PAZ, SV 
    Hometown: ZACATECOLUCA, PA, SV
    Hometown: OREM, UT, US
    Hometown: UNION CITY, NJ, US

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