Anyone who has visited an orphanage in India with caring leaders can tell you that it is a place full of contrasts. There is a palpable love that transcends the sadness. Some of the children in these orphanages had a family at one time. Others were abandoned since birth, or their mothers died of disease. But, there is a sense of team, of a family knowing that they’re in it together, even if there are persistent food shortages, water borne illnesses, and discrimination from people outside the orphanage. The amazing caregivers live on a silk thread of faith that they can feed the children and against all odds, they do.
Thirteen years ago, I was single, childless, jobless and partying around the world without any particular purpose or passion.
Then on Mother’s Day in 2000, still on a carefree vacation in India, looking to “discover the world” with some volunteer opportunities, everything came to a screeching halt when an orphanage director invited me to a dinner at his home. He had been taking care of malnourished children in his living room, who were sleeping throughout his house on any and all floor space. With over 24 million orphans in India, he was doing his small part with what little resources he had.
The children were so beautiful, open, and just wanted to connect and be held. Less than a year old, Sheebani had laid in her crib much of her infancy. Once she was held, she did not want to let go. As I was rocking her to sleep, I realized how close I was to my own mom in Louisiana, and how my extended family was so enormous and connected. The very idea of not having my mother in my life sucker-punched me right in the gut. Where was the government when it came to taking care of Sheebani? Didn’t these children have neighbors, relatives, anyone to help? Apparently not.
Someone had to take a stand for them, and that’s how The Miracle Foundation was born.
With the foundation, I’ve decided to do more than feed these children. Today, it's revolutionizing the way orphanages operate. Our goal is to help orphaned and abandoned children not only survive, but thrive. A full bowl is essential, but a full life is necessary for a girl or boy to be able to become a successful, contributing adult.
Our signature NEST Method, (Nurture-Empower-Strengthen-Transform), based on the U.N. Convention’s “Rights of the Child” and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, is successfully giving orphans living in existing, dramatically under-resourced orphanages, the chance to reach their full potential and become healthy, self-sustaining adults. We use a rigorous five-phase vetting process with existing under-resourced orphanages which are screened with reference checks and site visits, and qualified with orphanage financial audits. Once they are accepted into our program, we partner with leaders at the orphanage to hire additional housemothers from the local area to work on-site in the orphanages with up to 20 children each. Skilled social workers who live on-site provide 24/7 support and on-going training for the housemothers, as well as life skills education for the children.
We help housemothers establish closeness with children who have experienced trauma, or simply miss the presence of a parent. Little things are taught, like greeting children when they get off the bus from school, eating together in a circle as a family group and having the children talk about their day. Parenting twenty children requires training in effective discipline and communication techniques, so we do everything within our power to help the housemothers create a close relationship with each child.
We deliver home-style experiences for children, with comfy beds, nutritious food, clean clothes, school uniforms, life-skills training, tutoring, and opportunities for friendship. Best of all, we provide these children a family – caring housemothers who will teach them how to respect others, value honesty, and care about the community.
For $100,000, we can partner with an overcrowded, struggling orphanage and give at least 100 boys and girls a cozy sense of home. We can give them moms. This year, instead of a bouquet that will fade away, consider donating to Orphans Over Orchids and offer loving, lasting relationships to children halfway around the world. Click DO here.
This project is part of GOOD's Saturday series Push for Good—our guide to crowdfunding creative progress.