Our story begins before MAC was officially an NGO. One Georgian, Rezo Chinchaladze, and one American, Cathy McLain, wanted to make a difference in the world of disabilities in Georgia.
In 2005, Jeremy Gaskill, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zestaponi, invited Cathy, an educational psychologist, to help his new NGO evaluate children with disabilities and develop a program for them. Rezo was the translator. When they arrived at the village, they were confronted with a long line of parents and grandparents holding their children like rag dolls. Cathy was horrified to learn that Georgia had no programs, no facilities, no equipment, and much misinformation about disabilities. Rezo was overwhelmed with compassion for these children's plight.
They could not ease their minds by giving people the name of a doctor or a pill that would cure a child's cerebral palsy, autism, or intellectual delay. Families were angry when they were told to focus on independent living.
In time, Rezo and Cathy traveled from house-to-house, village-to-village, evaluating hundreds of children with disabilities in 56 villages, giving names to children's disabilities, sharing information that could help. Concepts such as independent living, vocational skills, and functional education were foreign concepts in these places at this time.
After unsuccessfully trying to work with various international organizations; Rezo, Cathy, and Roy Southworth, Cathy's husband, formed McLain Association for Children (MAC) with Rezo as its director. MAC hired and trained the best psychologists and occupational therapists that Georgia produced and spread the word about disabilities to all who would listen. When MAC became too large to manage alone, Jeremy Gaskill was invited back as CEO to help MAC become more efficient and to finish the work he helped start.
MAC has educated hundreds of teachers, parents, community leaders, and institutional staff about disabilities and has encouraged children in outlying regional areas to go to university by giving 88 children university scholarships. Massage therapists are taught techniques for working more efficiently with children, and hundreds of children have been evaluated by our staff. Autistic children have a voice through their parents' participation in our parents' group, and the first IQ test in Georgia was normed by MAC.
With will, determination, and the help of many; including their staff and partners; MAC Georgia is making a difference .
It is working towards a Georgia where everyone, of all abilities, has access to the resources and support necessary for them to achieve their full potential.