KEARNEY, NEBRASKA — As the second oldest of 10 kids, and now a mother of two, maternal might as well be Michaela Mauler’s middle name.
She will soon put her nurturing skills to good use in Vietnam.
Mauler is among 24 people selected of 700 applicants nationwide to be a part of the Liddle Kidz Foundation Global Outreach Program. The group will travel to Vietnam Dec. 7 to teach infant and child massage to caregivers at several orphanages in that country.
The Liddle Kidz Foundation addresses the need for nurturing touch among children worldwide. By setting up massage programs for orphaned infants and children, the foundation provides caring touch to children who might lack any nurturing contact.
Mauler, 27, is a Norfolk native who moved to Kearney when she was about 4. She said she has always been drawn to infants and children.
She learned about the trip through an infant massage class she took 1½ years ago.
“Anything that has to do with young children, I like to be involved in, so when I saw an ad for an infant massage class, I jumped right in,” she said.
While Mauler loved the class, the busy mother said she didn't do much with infant massage until she received an e-mail about the Global Outreach Program in Vietnam.
"I applied and thought, 'If I get accepted, great; if not, I'll apply again next year,'" she said. A few days later, she found out that she was chosen for the program. Mauler is the only Midwestern member of the group.
"When I found out, I was so excited, I didn't know if I wanted to laugh or cry," she said.
The group will spend two weeks traveling to orphanages throughout Vietnam teaching the techniques of infant massage to caregivers.
"We are literally traveling across the country," Mauler said. "I think its great that we're going to as many orphanages as we can in the two weeks that we're there."
Mauler said the benefits of infant and child massage are endless, but they are especially important for children living in orphanages.
"These children might have food, clothing and shelter, but most of them don't get that nurturing touch that's so important. Without it, they can feel discarded, forgotten or even untouchable, especially the children that are sick or have a disability."
The children vary in age from newborns to adolescents. Mauler said many of the children they will be working with are affected by Agent Orange, suffer from landmine injuries or have other illnesses and healthcare needs.
"It's a great way to connect and bond with the child, and it also helps them gain healthy weight and can help with constipation, colic, there's even a certain massage we teach that can help with teething," Mauler said. "I hope us being there will kind of create a ripple effect and the caregivers can then teach it to other orphanages that we didn't get to, or to the parents who end up adopting a child.
In addition to receiving certification as an infant massage instructor, Mauler is a certified nursing assistant and has CPR and first-aid training. She works at a nursing home in Ravenna.
Although she is reluctant to leave her 4-year-old and 2-year-old sons for two weeks, Mauler said she is glad to be setting a good example for them while providing children who are less fortunate with a much-needed caring touch.
"It will be great to show my boys that I'm doing something to help other people," she said. "When people used to ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say I wanted to be a mom, and now I'm so excited to be impacting the lives of these kids in Vietnam who don't have one."
To learn more about Michaela Mauler’s mission, visit
There are millions of infants and children worldwide who are struggling to live to their fullest potential. Would you like an opportunity to bring nurturing touch and pediatric massage to orphaned and displaced children around the globe?
Do you wish to share your skills with children who are affected by Cerebral Palsy, AIDS/HIV, landmines, Agent Orange, developmental disabilities, genetic birth defects, mental and emotional trauma?
Just ask yourself . . . can one person make a difference?
Take this moment to make a difference in the life of a child.
Apply now to be part of our next international volunteer team . . .you too, can be a Liddle Kidz Global Ambassador!