Hearing about the conditions orphaned children live in is one thing, but seeing them up close can be something else entirely. Just ask Caroline Boudreaux, whose own experiences while volunteering in India moved her to make a change—in both her own life and in the lives of countless kids.
In 2000, Boudreaux, a successful account executive at a TV station in Austin, Texas, and her friend, Chris Monheim, decided to quit their jobs to travel the world. After a grueling day spent volunteering in a rural village in eastern India, the two women were invited to dinner at the home of a local family who also housed orphans. Boudreaux couldn’t believe what she saw: More than 100 hungry, sick kids, whose “eyes were empty,” she says. All of those kids shared small wooden-slatted beds. The conditions hit Boudreaux hard.
She spent the next several years building orphanages around India, a method that was effective in implementing higher standards, but was costly. She realized that to expand her reach, she needed to go into existing establishments and work with them to improve their standards. So she partnered with orphanages around India, working to create a family-style living environment. With funding through child sponsorships and individual donations, The Miracle Foundation was born.
In 2011, the organization developed a three-step system of checks and balances used to identify and develop orphanages, while improving the lives of the children who live in them. Here’s how it works: The Miracle Foundation accepts applications from orphanages, then gives them an intensive screening process that involves background checks and on-site visits from The Miracle Foundation’s Indian staff, as well as a financial assessment. Once the orphanage is eligible, The Miracle Foundation works with them to figure out how they need help and to develop a funding plan. After approval, the nonprofit begins working with the home to implement the plan, and a variety of programs are put into place to ensure clean water, health care, education, and caregiver training.
If the orphanage continues to succeed, and the facility meets agreed-upon goals, it enters a three-year partnership with The Miracle Foundation that puts a stronger focus on education—providing older orphans with college prep courses, sending interns over to teach English, and investing in tutors for after school. “This [three- step] method is measurable and it’s transparent,” Boudreaux says.
Today, the nonprofit partners with nine orphanages in rural India, and has helped hundreds of kids in the process. And hopefully, with these strategies in place, they’ll be able to help even more kids. “It’s a proven model that works and could work anywhere in the world,” says Boudreaux. “But we can’t do it all, so we have to rely on other people to help us.”The nonprofit has plans to make its methodology available online in an open-source model, allowing anyone “working on this global issue to come together to share ideas and best practices,” says Boudreaux. “And by bringing these people together, we have the voice to make the world understand this problem and join to address this global crisis—it’s time someone spoke up for these kids.”
HOW TO HELP?
- The Miracle Foundation has come up with several programs that allow people to lend a hand:
- Sponsor a child in need with a monthly contribution
- Provide a child with a gift, like book bags with school supplies, or sports equipment
- Travel to India on one of several tours offered by The Miracle Foundation to see firsthand the work that’s being done, and to get involved.
For more info, or to send a donation, go to miraclefoundation.org