She aligned herself with Miracle Foundation Founder Caroline Boudreaux’s vision and went on to become India Country Head, spearheading the establishment and management of Miracle Foundation India since 2011. As the Country Head, she is responsible for leading the team toward the vision of a safe, loving family for every child by 2040. Nivedita Das Gupta, India Country Head, Miracle Foundation India, spoke to HerZindagi on how the foundation works and what is the scenario when it comes to people volunteering in India.
How has the foundation empowered more than 7,000 orphaned children across India?
We have impacted 1200+ children directly by associating with the children's homes where they reside. This involves continuous capacity building, training and mentoring. For the remaining children, our approach is 'Train the Trainer' model (called Center for Excellence). We get the staff/functionaries/caregivers of children's homes together (it is a yearlong program) to train them on our method, The Juvenile Justice act (they are supposed to follow this), and other interventions which are necessary to provide best standards of care while children transition to families from childcare homes. Additionally, we undertake in-depth mentoring as well which includes visits, networking and creating linkages with similar organizations in the field.
What were the obstacles you had to face to make the foundation what it is today?
Miracle Foundation India is known for its ‘Child First’ approach which is based on the principle of suitability & necessity. This means that everything we do is in the best interest of the child. This is the reason we did not face any problems to form the foundation. We followed all the norms laid down by the Govt. We have been transparent, and fulfil all the legal compliance on a routine basis.
From where do the funds come in and do people donate if they do with an open heart? May we ask what sector donates the most as we are pretty sure that some individuals are and can be pretty stringent or take time to trust NGO's ...
We have always been very transparent in our approach & operations. Our funds come from three sources:
- From our parent org; The Miracle Foundation, based in Austin, Texas
- From Indian corporates under their CSRs
- Generous individual donors.
These are both salaried as well as high net worth individuals. Like I mentioned before, the trust factor comes from our transparency and sincerity towards our donors. As an NGO, we show our donors where their money is going and the impact they are making. Miracle Foundation uses a ‘Thrive Scale’ to track impact & is also a tool through which the donors know about the difference they are creating.
Corporate CSR funds are certainly more however, the individual donor base is steadily going up. We are always looking forward to more corporates & individuals joining us in creating miracles for children. There is so much more important work to be done. And we’ve certainly headed in the direction of bringing children into safe, loving families.
How do you get in touch with the children who need help?
Since we work through existing children's homes, all our contacts with the children is through them and we support/help them through the children's homes.
Is it easy convincing them? Some kids may be a bit reluctant.
Not really. They are beautiful. We work with children living institutions and they welcome any support that they get for education, health and overall development while they are gradually reunified with their families. They want to live in families. We work with the motto 'In the best interest of every child' and talking and listening to the children is the key for us.
We need people and volunteers to work in the NGO's, do people do that enough?
Interestingly overseas volunteers are quite willing to volunteer in India. Our experience with Indian or overseas volunteers is very limited. There is so much one can do with the incredible amount of potential in them. If everybody did their bit, a change would be around the corner.
Orphanages of which states have you worked with till date?
We work in seven states which includes Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Tripura & Karnataka. In India, orphanages are called children's homes.
What kind of future do you see after all the hard work you have put in?
We are working with the children's homes and the Govt to ensure that children are reunited with their families/extended families etc. Data shows (UNICEF) that more than 80% of children living in children's homes have at least one parent back home and they are there because their parents are poor and lack resources for their growth. This is no reason for children to get separated from their families. For abandoned children, we ensure that children are loved, educated, healthy and safe until they transition to a permanent family under alternative care. And this is our goal; a safe, loving family for every child. And we plan to achieve this by 2040.