When we say that we give orphaned and vulnerable children a voice…we mean it quite literally! In July, Miracle Foundation brought together 12 children – selected from orphanages all across India – to train in leadership skills and media communication so that they can represent the voices of children sitting in orphanages all over the world. We call them our Youth Ambassadors. The weekend spent with these kids was full of emotion, learning, confidence building and surprises!

 

 

Their Voices:

Here are some quotes directly from some of these new ambassadors on their own experiences as well as their passion to help others like themselves:

Rajashree: “I applied to become a Youth Ambassador because I want to help children like me. Right now I can’t provide money, but I can share my thoughts to bring change. Later, I can donate as well.”

Kalpana:  If I can overcome all the things that I have been through, then I can get over literally any hurdle.

Sameer: “I joined the Youth Ambassador program to advocate for ALL kids in institutions.”

Absolom: “Today I am studying and feel happy and confident. It is good to know that there are other children out there like me and that there is a platform for us to share our experiences.”

 

The Selection:

The 12 selected candidates were chosen from a pool of nearly 100 applicants. Each applicant had to send in both written and video content talking about why they want to be an advocate and a voice for change for orphaned children. There were so many talented applicants that it was hard to narrow it down. But, these 12 stood out in their passion, poise and articulation of the issues surrounding child’s rights.

 

The Weekend:

The kids arrived by trains, planes and automobiles–some leaving their hometown for the first time in their lives–to congregate at a conference center in Mumbai. Miracle Foundation staff and social workers from the individual orphanages were there to support the kids throughout the weekend.  Two amazing facilitators lead sessions on storytelling, interviewing, confidence-building and important issues surrounding orphan and child’s rights. The Youth Ambassadors also got to talk to experts directly related to children’s rights and media – a reporter from the Hindustan Times who talked about citizen journalism and a superintendent from the local Women and Children’s Development department. 

 

So much was fit into 3 short days! First, storytelling sessions allowed kids to open up physically and mentally through meditation and other exercises. This helped them to shake off any nerves about speaking in front of each other or the camera. Next, they got an introduction to the various forms of media; helping them understand what makes a good journalist and why it’s important for them to actively create their own stories in order to shed light on the issues most relevant to them and other orphans.

The kids got to put theory into practice by interviewing adults and each other – from creating the questions and format, to conducting the interviews and recording.

Of course, things got quite emotional at times. The kids opened up about their personal stories, some for the first time, to each other and in front of a camera. But, the other children and the caring adults in attendance helped them feel loved and supported. 

It was amazing to see the children’s confidence in front of the camera and each other grow throughout each day!

 

The Fun!

Aside from jam-packed days of learning, there was also some time in the evening for the kids to have fun. A beach trip was arranged. Some of these kids saw the ocean for the very first time! Imagine that!

On the last night, the kids put on an impromptu culture show with singing and dancing. Their joy and enthusiasm were infectious and it was clear that they had all gained confidence and poise over the course of the weekend.

 

The Goal:

We are so pleased with how this special weekend turned out. It marks the beginning for these Youth Ambassadors. We will continue to provide support and training to these amazing children and help them to evolve their voice and amplify it out into the world. Depending on the talents of each individual child this could be through writing, speaking, interviewing or video and social media. Our goal with this program is to literally hand a pen or a microphone to the very children for whom we do this great work. Who better to represent the cause of orphaned and vulnerable children throughout India than the children themselves. They are the experts and their voices are the ones that should be heard!

Stay tuned as you will be hearing much more from and about these incredible Youth Ambassadors over the coming year!

Questions about our program or how you can support it? Please email info@miraclefoundation.org or visit our donate page, here.