Caroline Boudreaux was an account executive at a TV station in Austin, Texas, when a trip to India changed her perspective on life, causing her to quit her corporate job and make some news of her own.
In May 2000, Boudreaux, then 28, took a trip around the world with a friend. One of their stops along the way was to a small village in India where her friend had sponsored a child. The two women met the young boy and saw first-hand how far her donations had gone to help the child and his family thrive.
A few days later, the women were invited to the home of a local family that had taken in several orphaned children, but they could have never prepared for what they witnessed.
“They were all bald, all filthy,” Boudreaux tells PEOPLE. “Some were emaciated and some were puffed out, but just kind of empty looking eyes, and they were really super clingy. You wouldn’t leave your dog there.”
Boureaux then had a special encounter with a baby girl who had a profound effect on her.
“There was this one little girl, this precious baby. I was rocking her to sleep and I went into her room to put her to bed and there were these wooden beds, mildew growing up the walls – it was just so hot and damp. The minute I had to put that little starving baby onto that bed, I just thought, ‘What is going on? What am I doing? I’m partying around the world and they’re living like this.’ ”
In that moment, Boudreaux was inspired to start The Miracle Foundation, a non-profit organization designed to transform the lives of orphans in India.
Boudreaux says the organization has partnered with 14 orphanages in India, and her staff members follow the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to get the children healthy and vaccinated and secure educators, house mothers, counselors and funding.
People can also volunteer to go to the orphanages as ambassadors and devote their time for week-long periods.
There are 153 million orphans in the world, according to UNICEF, and Boudreaux says they are the most vulnerable people in the world.
“We decided we wanted to make our organization scalable because we wanted to get to as many of those 153 million children as possible,” Boudreaux says. “We didn’t want to go into one orphanage and make it good. We wanted to develop a franchise methodology that can go into any orphanage.”
Since the start of the organization, Boudreaux has noticed great improvements in many of the orphans’ lives.
“When we get there, we always ask them what they want to be when they grow up,” she says. “They’ve only known two people in their lives – either a police officer or a teacher, so that’s what they want to be. But after we’ve been there for six months, they want to be the prime minister! They just have this huge hope.”
Boudreaux says it doesn’t take much to change the lives of these children.
“Not everybody can quit their job and start an organization and help orphans, but everybody could give $5, $10 or $100 dollars a month,” she says. “It costs about $100 a month to take care of everything they need, including college.”
Meera, an 18-year-old orphan in India, is one of the many success stories to come from The Miracle Foundation’s efforts.
“Previously, I was very thin, and now my height has increased and my weight has increased,” she tells PEOPLE. “I also have a house mother, who I get a lot of love from and she is like a guardian. It’s like living with a family.”
Meera says she now has good teachers, recreation, food and clothing, adding that education is the “best thing that has happened.”
“I feel like I can grow up as a girl with confidence and save my life,” she adds. “When you give education to young people, it really helps them grow.”
Boudreaux feels equally fulfilled.
“I now have everything money can’t buy,” she says. “I have this great mission and great work now. It’s given me something so powerful to do.”
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