Empowering orphaned children to reach their full potential in becoming successful individuals is the mission and vision of Miracle Foundation India (MFI). The India wing of this global not-for-profit organisation pledges commitment to making lives worth living for thousands of children who have lost all hope.
Established on Mother’s Day in 2000 after MF founder Caroline Boudreaux interacted with beneficiaries in India during a visit, team MFI conceptualised a method with the 'Child First' approach. This helps children in child care Institutions (CCI) get best care, while they transition back to their families, with a focus on Juvenile Justice Act, and the 12 Rights of the Child (United Nation’s Convention of Rights of the Child).
Before launching the not-for-profit, Ms Boudreaux was working as an account executive at a TV station in Austin. She opted for a sabbatical to travel around the world along with her friend Chris Monheim. They had planned to stop in India as Chris wanted to meet a boy she had been sponsoring for years. When they reached here and met the little boy, Manu, they were invited for a dinner at the home of a local family. There, they realised that there were many more like Manu, who were in need of
attention and love. This was enough for Ms Bourdeaux to take the dive and to realise that the number of children living under unfair conditions were many, including Sheebani – a toddler who got her attention. “The rooms had wooden-slatted beds without mattresses and the food lacked nutrition,” she noted back then.
After reaching out to institutions that helped orphaned children in the country, the idea of a separate NGO arose and MFI was born. It began the pursuit to hire the best and experienced personnel to work closely with CCIs. MFI was formally registered as an NGO in 2011, said Ms Nivedita DasGupta, India Country Head, MFI.
The NGO is now working in seven states, reaching out to over 7,500 children. The ‘Child First’ approach focuses on programmes that include Base Model, Centre for Excellence, Life Skills Education, Mental Health Programme and more. A team of trained professionals, including consultants, helps them execute different programmes, said team MFI.
On the intervention initiatives, Ms DasGupta told Deccan Chronicle that MFI learnt that 80% of children in CCIs have at least one surviving parent. “This is a large number. From day one, we saw how much these children crave to meet their parent/s. These children are put into CCIs because their parents are poor and lack the resources to bring them up. But this separation is a heavy price to pay for being poor. This results in stunted mental growth and lack of affection and emotion among children,” she said.
The biggest learning for team MFI was that allowing children to live with their parents is in the best interest of the child as it is based on the principle of necessity and suitability. “We are working towards developing an atmosphere of love, affection and family, where each child has the opportunity to grow up in the best way possible,” she said.
Team MFI also encourages CCIs to consider alternative options for children, such as adoption in case of full orphans (by connecting with CARA – Central Adoption Resource Authority), foster care, kinship care and such.
“Our team continues to work with children who have been reunited to ensure that the family is strengthened and children are well integrated with their families. We are committed to ensure that every child under our care completes higher education and has the right tools she needs to have a bright future,” she said.