Caroline Boudreaux, a social entrepreneur from the US had invested all her life savings and started the 'Miracle Foundation'. Since its inception in 2000, she committed herself to empowering orphans in India. She says, “Our aim is not just to build better homes for children. We all know children should be in loving families, so we are working to transition resources. And while children are in transition to a forever family, we guarantee a quality education, a loving environment so they are healthy. It’s the miracle each child deserves.”
Caroline Boudreaux with children
You are doing so much for orphans in India and abroad. What inspired you to work for them?
Sheebani, a little girl from an orphanage in Orissa inspired me 18 years ago. At the age 28, I was an account executive at a TV station. I always thought that money would bring happiness but instead, I felt empty inside. So, my friend and I decided to quit our jobs and take a trip around the world. She insisted that we visit India so she could meet a young boy she had been sponsoring. In May 2000, we had made our way to the small village in Orissa where my friend was absolutely thrilled to meet him.
A few days later, we went to the ashram of a social worker where 100 beautiful orphaned children greeted us. They were sad and empty-looking. Meeting the children gave me a whole new perspective to what poverty is.
When I returned home, I left my lucrative job and founded an NGO. And today, I am a proud mother to over 7,000 little children!
Excerpts from an interview:
How has the journey been till now in India?
Tough. Exciting. Challenging. Motivating. It is a road less travelled by. It hasn’t been smooth sailing. We’ve faced unimaginable obstacles, corruption, bureaucratic nightmares, and lack of will. But the children keep me going every day.
Challenges are definitely a part of any journey. Before we developed our vetting process for children’s homes, we realised that there was corruption at one of the homes. We had been working with the children at this orphanage for six years.
What do you see as the state of orphanages in India?
Eight million children are in orphanages around the world today. Nearly 80 per cent of them have a living family member. The thing is, most families wouldn’t leave their children in institutions if they had the right support to care for them. Poverty is a root cause of children living in institutions.
Tell us more about the Centre for Excellence programme and Family-Based Care workshop?
Family-Based Care is our goal. When we look around today, we see that poverty has led a lot of children to be separated from their families. This leads to a loss of a caring and nurturing environment—which is critical for a child's overall growth. Children deprived of family are vulnerable.
In our Centre for Excellence programme, Miracle Foundation is collaborating with 25 children’s homes across India. We’re partnering with these homes to train them on family-based care, how to be in sync with the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 and how to measure their progress. We have a team on the ground in India, providing guidance on how to reunify children with family.
What are the challenges you faced to run Miracle foundation?
The biggest challenge faced by an NGO is the ability to help enough people. That, of course, is a matter of raising enough money to care for the thousands of children. And, the way to do that is to show donors where their rupees are going.
Being a woman, did you ever hold back?
No. Personally, I’ve been blessed with a life full of love. We believe in complete equality. The truth is that many women aren’t given equal opportunities.
What is your long-term strategy for India?
Our long-term strategy is for every orphaned child to have a loving family.
I truly believe that, in one generation, we can end the suffering of children without parents.