Monthly Archives: September 2009

Good News Wednesday – Akanksha Cards for Change

Today’s Good News Wednesday segment is about a very simple, easy way that you can help create positive change for the future of these children.

Raju, an Akanksha student I interviewed

Raju, an Akanksha student I interviewed

Akanksha is a non-profit organization in India that is dedicated to education of the poorest and most vulnerable children. They go into the slums and streets to bring a better education to children who would otherwise get left behind.

I visited Akanksha in Mumbai, while interviewing and writing the book, and I feature them in Chapter 6 of The Weight of Silence. I also wrote a story about their wonderful work, and some of the Akanksha students that I talked to, on this blog.

Now, Scene East has partnered with Akanksha to bring some beautiful holiday cards to the market, with proceeds benefiting Akanksha’s work and students. Scene East’s business is designed to share photos of magical places, while raising money to benefit worthy causes. When you Shop with Scene East for holiday cards, your money will go toward furthering the education of children in need – while providing you with some amazing, gorgeous holiday cards that are designed and drawn by the kids!

Over the past 20 years, Akanksha has expanded from 15 children in one center to over 3.500 children in 57 centers in Mumbai and Pune, with an additional 2100 children in 6 schools. Help support their work by purchasing your Diwali, Christmas, Chanukah, New Years and Birthday cards through Scene East!

Shop for Holiday Cards at Scene East!

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Good News Wednesday – Another child sponsored

Photo courtesy of World Vision

©2007 Andrea Dearborn/World Vision

I decided to start the “Good News Wednesday” series because of all the feedback from readers who share their own personal, heartwarming stories of hope with me. Even though the issues facing vulnerable children are difficult and many, there are also so many inspirational tales of positive change that make me feel that all of our work is really making a difference. I thank each and every one of you for your support, and for caring about these children and their stories.

Today I would like to share the story of Dawnene and her daughter. Dawnene initially came across The Weight of Silence while researching a trip to India. She wrote to me after reading it, to tell me that the book had inspired the two of them to sponsor their own child, a 12-year-old girl, through World Vision. Dawnene said:

Your book was so touching to me that I cried when reading many parts but was also left with a strong resolve that there was no way I could read this book and with this newly acquired knowledge and awareness not do something…anything regardless of how small it was, to try to make a difference. My initial excitement about planning my trip to India evolved into an entirely different prospective and mission. I now wanted to go and DO something about these children not just visit the Taj Mahal and be a tourist.

We don’t make a lot of money ourselves but in comparison to what these children’s lives are like, we are rich. After reading your book, my 21 year old daughter, Charlene, and I chose to sponsor a girl from India, named Nikitha. I hope to someday go to India myself and make a difference with volunteer work of some sort.”

Photo by G. Jeff Lamigo/World Vision

Photo by G. Jeff Lamigo/World Vision

I applaud Dawnene and Charlene for becoming aware of the situation, hearing the voices of these kids, and then taking action to do something about it. Do not, for one second, think that such an action is too small or ever underestimate the power of changing the future, and the world, of just one child. It is a ripple effect that can know no boundaries.

Dawnene then wrote a review of the book on Amazon.com that said, in part: “I, like many others, saw Slumdog Millionaire and was heartbroken by the stories of the children in the film and interested to learn more about this culture and its people. Shelley’s book did an excellent job of telling their stories. I had to actually put it down several times before I finished it for a couple of days so I could fully digest what I had read and get my mind around it.”

You can read Dawnene’s full review here. Thank YOU, Dawnene and Charlene – not just for your kind words of support, but for the love and care you have shown by being willing to step up and do something yourselves, instead of waiting for someone else to do it. I will end this post with the quote from the book that Dawnene said was her favorite:

If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.
~Mother Theresa

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Watch a World Vision video about child sponsorship

Good News Wednesday

Today I am unveiling a new feature – Good News Wednesday!

Every Wednesday I will share an inspiring story affecting these children. We all can use some good news, and there are so many wonderful people doing amazing work. I think they should be recognized, and children who have a second chance at a future acknowledged.

Babli in Mumbai, May 2008

Today I would like to share the story of Pamela and Babli. Pamela found my book through an online adoption group, and contacted me after she had read it. This is what she wrote to me:

Just finished reading your book and it was wonderful. We adopted Babli last October from a Mumbai orphanage. She had been found badly injured by the body of her mother at a Bombay train station when she was about 3 years old. Your stories are her story. Her resilience is that of the children you describe. She is now about 7or 8 and happy and smart and amazing.

Pamela ended by thanking me for writing the book, as she continued to try to figure out a way to be more involved and help more children like Babli. “I’ll be watching for more of your writings and looking to you for further inspiration,” she said. “You have written a very important book.”

Thank YOU, Pamela, for sharing the incredible story of your amazing Babli with me. Here is some more information about this little girl who has been given a second chance at life:

Babli today

Babli today

Nothing was known about Babli’s life before the age of about 3. She was found beside the body of her dead mother at Borivali train station. Her mother had sustained open femur fractures of both of her legs and a head injury. Pamela hoped to find out more about what happened to Babli’s mother, but was given conflicting stories…that she and her mother fell from the train, they were pushed from the train, her mother walked with her in front of the train as a suicide attempt due to poverty. “We may never know,” says Pamela. “She is our most precious child. That we do know.

Babli was hospitalized for several months and endured 3 years of surgeries in India in an attempt to save her right leg. However, the leg required amputation in the U.S. after Pamela and her husband brought her home last October. Before that, Babli lived for 3 years at St. Catherine’s Home in Mumbai. She was cared for very well there, and for this Pamela is most grateful. Prior to the adoption, Pamela was told that testing revealed Babli to be mentally retarded.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Pamela insists. “She is smart and kind and loving. Nothing can stop this kid and she brings joy to us every day.

What an amazing story – it is knowing that these miracles exist, that makes it possible for me to continue this work without a heavy heart. Thank you, Pamela, for sharing Babli’s incredible story with us – and congratulations on your beautiful daughter.

Babli at home in New York

Babli at home in New York

Don’t forget to join me for 10 minutes at Authors Read, on September 19 when I will be reading from The Weight of Silence.

And check out the Travel’n On radio show on September 29, when I am the guest. The Travel’n On Radio Show empowers travelers to have fun while leaving positive footprints by fostering global citizenship and creating cross-cultural understanding.  Click here to listen to the broadcast online, 9/29 at 3 pm CST.

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Help The Miracle Foundation win $3,000-6,000!

Recently The Miracle Foundation, an Austin nonprofit that supports orphanages and hundreds of children in India, had a chance to secure a permanent spot on the Global Giving website.

Caroline with Deepak, March 2009

Caroline with Deepak, March 2009

The Miracle Foundation secured the place on Global Giving for two years, by raising $4,000 from 50 unique donors, in 30 days. Now, the foundation has a chance to win from $3,000 to $6,000 in grant money from Global Giving – and you can help make that happen!

As part of their Global Open Challenge 2009, Global Giving is awarding bonus grants of up to $3,000 for the nonprofit organizations that raise the most money during the Challenge – and an additional $3,000 will be awarded to the organization that has the most unique donors.

Please click here to go to The Miracle Foundation’s page on Global Giving and make your donation to help get us there – the foundation is currently in 3rd place out of 121 organizations! No donation is too small - even $10 will help a lot! Online donations will be accepted through September 18th, 2009.

Miracle Foundation’s project will save the lives of single mothers and their babies, by providing a home, nutrition, healthcare and love to these marginalized members of India’s untouchable caste. Caroline Boudreaux, founder of The Miracle Foundation, says, “By offering a safe environment to these abandoned and destitute mothers, we improve the maternal and infant mortality rate and care for those who are not cared for by others. It is a powerful way to make a significant difference.

Providing pre-natal care, hospital births, formula, and immunizations ensures healthy mothers and children. Hear the impact that The Miracle Foundation is having direct from a mother herself. Sangeeta, a woman who gave birth at the home in Simdega, said, “I now have hope for both my own and my child’s future.

Global Giving is an online marketplace that connects you to the causes and countries you care about. You select the projects you want to support, make a tax-deductible contribution, and get regular progress updates – so you can see your impact. Their mission is to build an efficient, open, thriving marketplace that connects people who have community and world-changing ideas with people who can support them.

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