Interview with Caroline Boudreaux, Miracle Foundation
“Eight million children live in institutions. Every one of them deserves a family. Let’s create miracles for them.” That sums up the core philosophy of the Miracle Foundation, a non-profit that is here to help people make a difference in the lives of orphaned children.
Trip Down Memory Lane
Founded on Mother’s Day in 2000, the Miracle Foundation was established by Caroline Boudreaux. Based in the US and Delhi, the Miracle Foundation empowers orphans to reach their full potential. Caroline has always been open to saying ‘yes’ to new opportunities–new jobs, new connections, new friendships, new foods, new experiences that has opened countless professional and personal doors throughout her life. “My first job ever was as a temp in Austin, Texas. At the time, I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career and my friends who knew me best convinced me to go into sales.I heard Xerox had a really good training program for their salespeople, so I applied there and started interviewing with them shortly thereafter. On the way to my 3rd interview, I left my temp job. After finishing my 3rd interview, I was riding the elevator down and a man got on the 23rd floor. He complimented my suit, and I thanked him and told him I was there for an interview. We talked briefly, and when we got to the bottom floor, he asked me to please bring his wife my resume. They were starting a television station and were in need of a good salesperson. TV sounded a lot more exciting to me than copiers, so I did what he asked, interviewed with his wife, and was hired the next day. The rest, as they say, is history.”
In spite of making more money than she had ever dreamed of, Caroline felt empty inside. “I was sure there was more to life. About that time, I decided to travel the world with a friend. As we plotted our course, she insisted that we visit India so she could meet a young boy she had been sponsoring. I was sceptical. I thought it was a scam and that she was wasting her money, but by May 2000 we had made our way to the small Indian village where the child whom my friend was sponsoring lived. I could not believe he was real. My friend was absolutely thrilled to meet him and see how her money had been helping him and his family. A few days later we were invited to dinner at a local home. Nothing could have prepared us for what we were to encounter there: Over a hundred beautiful, hungry, smiling, orphaned children our host had taken in over the course of nearly two decades. I had never seen an orphan before in my life and here were over a hundred vying for our attention and love.” As Caroline rocked a little girl to sleep and went upstairs to put her to bed, she was shocked to see the room filled with hard, wooden-slatted beds. “As I laid Sheebani down on those wooden boards, I broke. That day was auspicious – it was Mother’s Day. Right at that moment, I decided I had to do something to help parentless children. The idea for Miracle Foundation was born. So I returned home, left my lucrative television advertising career and founded a non-profit committed to empowering orphans to reach their full potential. I had never worked for an NGO before, but I was so committed to helping children without parents, I was convinced I could work through every barrier in my way.”
Moving from a career of selling air time on television stations to empower and enable people to make a lifelong difference for orphans is certainly a huge change, so I ask Caroline how the transition was? “I won’t lie. It hasn’t been completely smooth sailing since then. But I’m proud of hiring and working with the right people to figure out how to truly change the lives of the orphaned children we serve. I’m proud of knowing what I am not good at and I’m proud that my ego lets me admit when I need help. Surrounding myself with experts and giving them the room and tools to do their jobs has made our organization what it is today.” Today the Miracle Foundation brings life-changing care to the world’s orphans, starting in India by redefining the role of existing institutions and empowering individuals who have a strong commitment to quality orphan care but lack sufficient resources. “We transform orphanages into loving homes, train displaced women to become cherished mothers, and fund scholarships for education. Our method is rooted in the Miracle Foundation’s Twelve Rights of the Child, a holistic list of children’s rights based on the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Through our rigorous accountability system, we have established key metrics that measure orphanages’ progress in ensuring each child in their care is receiving these rights. Currently, we support 24 orphanages across India, and are working in partnership with the state government of Maharashtra to expand this model.”
Pairing her confidence, passion, and quality of never being too proud to ask for help, she says she has rarely encounter a situation in which she felt held back because of my gender. Caroline is inspired by Alan Graham who started Mobile Loaves and Fishes and Joan Holmes, Founding President of The Hunger Project. But challenges persist and a situation that was hard was when there was corruption at one of the homes her team was working with. “We had been working with the children at this orphanage for 6 years, so I loved them and knew them all very well. We got counsel from our Board and they voted to stop sending money until we could figure out exactly where our money was going. I hated to stop sending money to those kids. I felt like I was taking food off of their table. Unfortunately, we were unable to convince the leadership at the home to maintain financial transparency, so we had to stop supporting the home. It was so difficult to walk away from those kids. (Luckily, they are still getting clean water, food, healthcare, and a quality education.) But it was important for us to maintain integrity to our donors. No matter if you donate Rs. 100 or 100 lakhs, we want you to be confident your donation is making a real difference in the lives of children without parents.” A well travelled woman, Caroline wakes up at 6 am, meditates for 15 minutes, goes for a work out and then starts work. “That being said, I’m pretty good at unplugging. My husband Ed and I love to cook and work out together. We love live music, enjoying wine together, playing games, and going to the neighbourhood pool. I unplug regularly and don’t have any problems relaxing – because I know it makes me better when I am plugged back in. Our biggest goal right now is to transform every orphanage in the entire Indian state of Maharashtra through partnerships with the state government and other NGOs. Once we prove that it can be done, we plan to expand our model to children who need it all around the globe,” she signs off.
This story appeared in Deccan Herald’s She dated Feb 25, 2017 here.