Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes in the middle of nowhere you find yourself.Author unknown
The Miracle Foundation was established on Mother’s Day in 2000, when Caroline Boudreaux was traveling in India and found herself face-to-face with orphaned children for the first time.
In her own words, this is the story of her experience and why she chose to dedicate her life to empowering orphaned children to reach their full potential.
“At age 28, I was an account executive at a local TV station in Austin, Texas. I was making more money than I had ever dreamed of and had everything someone of my age could want: a beautiful condo, a new car, lots of friends, and I was out almost every night. However, I felt empty and often thought, ‘I look like I’ve made it, but inside I’m empty.’ I wasn’t the girl I used to be. I had lost my spark. I knew in my heart that I had a purpose and that I wasn’t fulfilling it. I was sure there had to be more to life, but I didn’t have a clue what it was.
Soon after that, my friend Chris Monheim and I came up with the crazy idea of taking a trip around the world. The goal was to see the world, chase summer for a full year, and have an adventure of a lifetime. It seemed like a great way to escape, and I couldn’t wait.
Within days we pulled out a map of the world and began plotting our course. Chris insisted that one of the stops along the way had to be India. She had been sponsoring a young boy there named Manus for over four years, and she wanted to meet him. I had serious doubts that he even existed, much less that he would have received any of her money. I poked fun at her for her naiveté and remember putting my hand on her shoulder saying, ‘Chris, honey, he’s not real. They give everyone the same picture.’ But she was persistent. I reluctantly agreed, and, in January 2000, we set out on our trip to see the world.
In May of that year, we had finally made our way to India and we immediately arranged to visit the small, rural village in the eastern state of Odisha (formerly Orissa) where Manus, her sponsor child, lived. Upon our arrival, we received a ceremonial welcome from the entire village. After we were paraded through the street by men playing drums, at the end of a long walk, a woman stood before us. She knelt down and washed our feet. Then, she stepped aside and there was a young boy. It was Manus. He was real! He was exactly as his letters had described him. And, indeed, his family had received the support, letters, and pictures Chris had sent over the years. She was absolutely thrilled to meet him and pleased that her money was helping him and his family be able to have electricity, clean water, and an education for the children. We couldn’t believe how poor they were; his entire family of five lived in a two-room mud hut about the size of a typical American bathroom. We wanted to do more, so we decided to stay and volunteer for the next 21 days. We would soon learn that Manus and his family were the lucky ones.
A few days later, on May 14 (Mother’s Day in the U.S.A.), we were invited to dinner at the home of a local family. We had worked in the village all day and were tired, dirty and hot, but wanted to be polite, so we accepted. Nothing could have prepared us for what we were about to see or do. When we arrived, more than 100 beautiful, hungry, smiling, motherless and fatherless children greeted us. They were orphans. I had never seen an orphaned child before in my life and every single one of them was vying for our attention. Some were bald from a lack of protein and had an empty, vacant look in their eye. Others were so desperate for affection they would push each other out of the way for a hug from us or to touch our hands. It was overwhelming. They were the sweetest, saddest children I had ever seen. There were so many of them, and every single one was precious and perfect, and in need of love, attention, and my help. How could they be living like this? Where were their parents? Why were they in rags? Were they as hungry as they looked? Both in spite of and because of their circumstances, I was drawn to them. I had never felt anything like it in my life.
Over dinner, our host told us that 17 years earlier, he had found a starving orphan in a field and had brought the child home to live with him and his family. Then, after a cyclone hit, they took in 14 more children. Over the years, they had continued to take in orphaned children and were now caring for 110 of them. In spite of all the good they were trying to do, the children were dirty, malnourished, and desperately in need of affection. Poverty isn’t just about the lack of possessions and food. Going without individual attention and love is true poverty. I was witnessing it first hand, and it was too much to bear. Later that evening, a little girl named Sheebani came and put her head on my knee. When I picked her up, she literally pushed her body into mine, in an attempt to get the affection she desperately lacked. I sang her a lullaby and rocked her to sleep. When I went upstairs to put her into her crib, there wasn’t one. Instead, the room had thirty wooden-slatted beds. No mattresses, just wooden beds, similar to those used in World War II concentration camps. When I heard that baby’s bones hit the wooden bed, I broke. I couldn’t believe it. I was angry, hurt, and embarrassed. Here I was, traveling around the world without a care, and these children were going to “bed” hungry and lonely every night. How many more were there? How could we possibly help? How could we not? I decided to do something about it and prayed that others would help me.
The idea for The Miracle Foundation was born that day, Mother’s Day 2000. Upon returning to Austin in October of that year, I filed the paperwork and we became official! Donors and sponsors stepped up immediately in order to help these vulnerable children. Miraculously, people of all ages, from all walks of life, and from all socio-economic backgrounds have joined us in this journey over the years. Hundreds have come to India to meet the children we support, and many more have become sponsors and are financially committed to our work. We’re appropriately named.
Today we get to transform the lives of hundreds of orphan children.
- We nurture and empower orphan children and their caregivers,
- Strengthen operational processes and systems, and
- Turn orphanages into homes where children thrive.
Our partnership with children’s homes throughout rural India provides their management with the tools and training they need, so they can offer children the love and care they deserve. Our method for doing this has dramatically improved the lives of hundreds of orphaned children, trained dozens of housemothers, improved process and procedures throughout India and is transforming the way orphanages are run. It’s miraculous!
I thank you for reading about our work and our accomplishments. I hope you’ll be inspired to join this amazing movement. I know your support will change the children’s lives, but I think you’ll find it will change yours as well.”