In May of 2000, a young American woman with a plush TV job visited India for a short trip. Little did she know that her whole life was about to change. Caroline Boudreaux, smitten by the smiles of the hundreds of orphaned children in our country, decided to start the Miracle Foundation and make a difference in their lives. In an interview with Deccan Herald, she narrates her story.
A trip down memory lane
Caroline always said ‘yes’ to new opportunities – new jobs, new connections, new friendships, new food, new experiences. This quality has opened countless doors for her throughout her life.
“My first job ever was at Xerox in Austin, Texas. At that 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. Soon, I left the job and started giving interviews in other places. After my third 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 ground floor, he asked me to meet his wife with my resume. They were starting a television station and were in need of a good salesperson. TV sounded exciting, so I did what he asked. I was hired the next day.”
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.”
She went through with it even though she was sceptical. And it paid off. After meeting the boy, the two women were 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,” she shares.
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 Shibani down on those wooden boards, I broke down. Right then, I decided I had to do something. That is when the idea for Miracle Foundation was born,” she recalls.
Caroline returned home, quit her lucrative job and founded a non-profit to empower orphans to reach their full potential.
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. How was the transition, I ask.
“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,” she answers.
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 resources. “We transform orphanages into loving homes, train displaced women to become cherished mothers, and fund scholarships for education,” she says.
The foundation currently supports 24 orphanages across India, and works in partnership with the state government of Maharashtra.
Caroline says she has rarely encountered a situation in which she felt held back because of her gender. However, corruption at one of the homes her team was working with came in her way.
“We had been working with the children at this orphanage for six years. But the board voted to stop sending money until we could figure out exactly where our money was going. We were unable to convince the leadership at the home to maintain transparency, so we had to stop supporting them. It was so difficult to walk away from those kids,” she says. “But it is important for us to maintain integrity to our donors. No matter if you donate Rs. 100 or 100 lakh, we want you to be confident your donation is making a real difference.”
A well travelled woman, Caroline wakes up at 6 am, meditates for 15 minutes, goes for a workout and then starts work. “My husband Ed and I love to cook and workout together. We love live music, enjoying wine together, playing games, and going to the neighbourhood pool,” she says.
Her biggest goal right now is to transform every orphanage in Maharashtra through partnerships with the state government and other NGOs. “Then, we wishes to go international,” she signs off.