The Miracle Foundation
Podcast #96 — Aired June 20, 2016

A trip to India transformed Caroline Boudreaux’s life and now she’s changing the lives of orphans in that country every day. This week on BetterWorldians Radio we welcome Caroline back to the show to discuss the latest developments with her non-profit, The Miracle Foundation. Caroline shares inspiring stories of how her work is impacting the lives of children in need and how listeners can help make a difference.

 

 

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Caroline Boudreaux
Founder, The Miracle Foundation

Caroline Boudreaux founded The Miracle Foundation in 2000, after she visited India for the first time. From the first moment she met a group of more than 100 orphaned children and witnessed their beautiful smiles and incredible potential, she committed her life to helping them realize that potential. Caroline was born and raised in Lake Charles, Louisiana and attended L.S.U. where she earned a B.S. in psychology. Prior to her nonprofit work, she had a successful career in media advertising. For her achievements with The Miracle Foundation, Caroline was presented with the Hope Award in 2005 and the Impact Award in 2008. In 2009, she was invited to join the Young Global Leaders, a community of the World Economic Forum. She has been featured in various forms of media, including CNN and “One Peace at a Time,” a 2009 film by Turk Pipkin. In 2011, Caroline completed a prestigious course on Global Leadership and Public Policy for the 21st Century at Harvard University.

 

Episode Transcript

Raymond Hansell
Joining us today is Caroline Boudreaux, Founder of the Miracle Foundation. Caroline Boudreaux founded the Miracle Foundation in 2000 after she visited India for the first time. From the first moment she met a group of more than 100 orphan children she committed her life to helping them realize their full potential. Caroline holds a B.S. in Psychology. Prior to her nonprofit work she had a successful career in media advertising. For her achievements with the Miracle Foundation Caroline was presented with the Hope Award in 2005 and the Impact Award in 2008. In 2009 she was invited to join the Young Global Leaders, a community of the World Economic Forum. She has been featured in various forums of media, including the CNN, One Piece at a Time, a 2009 film by Turk Pipkin. In 2011 Caroline completed a prestigious course on Global Leadership and Public Policy for the 21st Century at Harvard University. Caroline, it is great to have you with us today on BetterWorldians Radio. Thanks for joining us.

Caroline Boudreaux
Well, thank you guys for having me. I really appreciate it. Im looking forward to some uplifting and inspiring today.

Raymond Hansell
You bet, you bet. Now as we've been reading about your story it seemed that it all started with a trip around the world with a friend. Tell us what your life was like before you took that trip?

Caroline Boudreaux
I was typical in that I was working 40 to 60 hours a week, and I was -- but I was, you know, I would say I was pretty selfish back then. I was making a lot of money. I was financially stable. I had done really well financially considering how old I was, but I was so unfulfilled. I mean I just didn't have any fulfillment in me, and I just kept thinking, well, when I get the new car then I'll feel better or when I get the boyfriend I'll feel better. Well, then I'd buy a house and I thought I would feel better. And it just nothing was working to get that fulfillment that I was looking for, and it got pretty frustrating. So much, in fact, that one night I was with one of my business associates and we were talking, and I said I just can't fill this hole in my life, I just can't figure out what it is that's going to make this go away or going to make everything okay. I mean I just don't understand what it's all for. And she said, you know, well, I'm pretty sick of the corporate world myself, why don't we sell off our stock for a year, quit our jobs, sell off our stock, and take a trip around the world? And that's what we decided to do. So it did, it all started with that trip around the world. We had gone back to her house and spread this world map on the floor and started picking the countries that we wanted to visit, and we said, you know, she wanted to go to India because she'd sponsored a child and she wanted to go and meet him. And I just told her, I mean I just looked at her and shook my head, and I just said, oh, gosh, Chris, I mean he's not real, they give everybody the same picture. I mean this is the oldest scam in the book, you know, I mean there's just no way. And she got real serious and she just said, you know, I care about him, I've been supporting him for four-and-a-half years, and it's really important to me. And so I just said, well, you'd better call the company and tell them we're coming because they've got about six months to sift through a billion people to find this particular little boy. So that's why I went to India.

Raymond Hansell
So tell us about the story of going to that first orphanage in India?

Caroline Boudreaux
Well, it wasn't an orphanage, it was actually this organization was supporting children with parents, which I've learned now that most organizations are supporting children with parents. There aren't organizations that are just targeting specifically orphans, with the exception of the Miracle Foundation. But we got to India in May. We quit our jobs in January of 2000, and we started traveling January 15th of 2000, and we started our trip around the world, it was a one-year trip. And we arrived in India in May, which was, for people that know India, it is so hot in India. It was 119 degrees in the village where we were going. So we went to the village. We arrive in this village, which is 45 minutes off a paved road, so we're going out into the bush and into the interior. And we arrive at this village, mud huts, thatched roofs, livestock tied, and it was just National Geographic. And we just get paraded through this village of all these people. The men are in the parade line with us going through the roads, and the women are on the side kind of egging us on and clapping and cheering. And at the end of this welcome we see this little boy at the end of the road, and he's holding the first letter that my friend had sent him.

Raymond Hansell
Oh, my word.

Caroline Boudreaux
I was shocked. I mean you could have knocked me over with a feather. And this organization promised clean water, electric power, and free primary education, and they were getting those three things. They were still poor, I mean I even wrote in my journal that night, I wrote today I met the poorest people in the world. So we decided to keep going back to that village every day, and we would be so hot and gritty by the end of the day -- you know, I told you it was so hot -- that we always just wanted to go back to our hotel at the end of the day because there was an air conditioner. But the person in charge of the organization invited us to his house for dinner, and we reluctantly agreed because it would just be rude not to go, but we were always anxious to get home to that shower, but we agreed to go. So the next day I got up early and I called my mom for Mother's Day, it was May the 14th of 2000, Mother's Day in the United States. I went to great lengths to call my mom. And then we went and worked in that village in 119 degree heat all day. And then we went to this man's house for dinner. And when we walked into his house, I had no idea what to expect, but I certainly never expected just to see starving, filthy, bald children. It looked like a concentration camp. I mean the kids were sleeping on wooden beds and there was no electricity, and they were in rags and they were filthy, and they were all bald, which I know now they were bald because they didn't have enough protein, but I had no idea why all these children were bald. And they had these empty looks in their eyes. I mean it was just horrific. And so we had dinner with them. We had -- they served us chicken and they served the children rice with sugar in it so they would eat it. And then we went to a prayer service with them that was beautiful. And then after the prayer service the kids, you know, we were trying to hold the kids, and it was so much easier than we sadly wanted, but we were calling them Velcro babies because they were just attaching to us. I mean we would have kids hanging on our legs and our arms, and it was so hot, and the body temperature, it was just overwhelming. But there was this little baby girl, and I could tell she was trying to get to me, but the competition was just too much. So I finally just reached over a bunch of kids and picked her up, and when you would pick them up and they would just push their little bodies into you, and she just got so close to me. And I sang her a lullaby in honor of my mother, and she fell asleep in my arms. And when I went to her room to put her in her bed, you know, I thought I would be putting her in a crib really, but I walk into her room to put her in the bed and I have to put this starving little angel on a wooden bed. I mean and just the minute I heard her bones hit that bed I just thought somebody better help these children.

Raymond Hansell
Yes, absolutely. Is this the little girl, Sheebani?

Caroline Boudreaux
Yes, yes.

Raymond Hansell
Okay, and so that's how you met her, and where is she now, how is she doing?

Caroline Boudreaux
She's fantastic. She's 15. She thinks she's famous in the United States because everybody that ever goes to that orphanage where she is seeks her out, but I mean she's stunningly beautiful. She's doing great.

Raymond Hansell
Now you left India after that visit and you knew, just as you indicated a few seconds ago, that you had to do something to help these kids out, and tell us a little bit more about that calling?

Caroline Boudreaux
It was, you know, it's what I call a burden of proof, you know? I mean you just can't comprehend it and now that you know - I had heard about kids, but I had never met any of them for sure. And then the fact that it was Mother's Day, I mean, Ray, how can you not? I mean it was just so obvious to me that here are these orphan kids and I get to meet them. And so my mom always told me responsibility is the ability to respond, and that's just how I felt. I just felt like I had an ability to respond to this. And so I came back to the United States and I started working on what kids need to thrive. And so I've spent the last 14 years figuring out how to give children in orphanages a real childhood and a chance to reach their full potential.

Raymond Hansell
That's amazing, that's -- it's great that you were touched by that and it was miraculous that this whole thing sort of unfolded in this way. So I commend you for responding in a way that your mom suggested, responsibility is the ability to respond, and you certainly took up that challenge. We're going to take a short break right now. I'd like to offer this challenge to our listeners, if you know someone whose acts, no matter how small, are making a difference in the lives of other people we here would love to hear about them. Tweet us at HASHTAG BETTERWORLDIANS so we can let the BetterWorldian Community know. We'll talk more with Caroline Boudreaux when we come back and learn more about her story. And, in the meantime, you can learn more at BETTERWORLDIANS DOT COM, and follow our live tweets at TWITTER DOT COM SLASH BETTERWORLDIANS. We'll be right back.

Raymond Hansell
We're back with Caroline Boudreaux, the Founder of the Miracle Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping orphans realize their full potential. We'll talk more with Caroline in a moment, but first we'd like to share some big news here at BetterWorldians Radio. We've recently launched a worldwide Kindness Campaign. We're challenging BetterWorldians around the globe to watch a two-minute video that illustrates the power of kindness. When it reaches a million views we will release funds for surgeries that will allow 10 kids in the developing world to walk for the first time. Please watch the video, share it with your friends at Color With Kindness Dot Com, that's Color With Kindness Dot Com. And now let's welcome back Caroline and MarySue.

MarySue Hansell
Hi, Caroline.

Caroline Boudreaux
Hi, MarySue.

MarySue Hansell
You know, after your trip to India you ended up creating the Miracle Foundation, which turns houses for abandoned children into real homes through improved nutrition, loving housemothers, and better education. To begin with, can you tell us how you came up with that name, Miracle Foundation?

Caroline Boudreaux
It was kind of a joke, MarySue, because I thought there's no way to do this. I mean I thought the problem was so huge, that I really kind of tongue in cheek called it the Miracle Foundation because I knew that it would take a miracle to get the Foundation on the ground. I mean I know that's not a great story, but that's the truth. It's like no way this is going to happen. I'm going to be miracle dependent forever, you know?

MarySue Hansell
It sounds like it was a miracle.

Caroline Boudreaux
Yes, well, and it totally has been, you know? We're still, to this day we're miracle dependent, you know?

MarySue Hansell
Now you primarily do your work out of Austin, Texas, and how does that work? And then you travel to India?

Caroline Boudreaux
Yes, so I'm from, I've lived in Austin, Texas for the last 20 years, and Austin is such a great place, it's such a -- it's a very diverse city. I was -- this work has been embraced by this city, and it's been wonderful. So a lot of the work that we do here in the United States is to raise funds and develop the curriculum that goes into the orphanages, and then we have an India staff that does, that actually goes into the orphanages and helps them implement the improvements.

MarySue Hansell
And you're traveling this week aren't you to India?

Caroline Boudreaux
Yes, I'm leaving in a couple of days and headed to four orphanages of the -- we have nine that we're working with, but I'm going to go to four of them on this trip.

MarySue Hansell
And so you just check in with them and see how they're doing?

Caroline Boudreaux
Exactly, exactly, you know, we have lots of metrics that we use to make sure that the orphanages are doing well, but there's just something about the eyes of your heart, you know, that you can view. That's what I'm looking for. Are the children really enjoying their childhood? Are they really being loved, and is this a place where I'd want to grow up? I mean believe it or not there are orphanages that I would live in. I mean that's how good they are, and it's not because they're good because their infrastructure is so fantastic, it's good because it's a real loving home.

MarySue Hansell
That sounds wonderful. Now you formed the Miracle Foundation based on the Children's Bill of Rights, can you tell us what that is?

Caroline Boudreaux
Yes, so when I was trying to figure out how to help I came across the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child, and that's 41 articles that had been ratified by 183 countries, and that basically says that all children on all continents have the same fundamental rights. And what we did was we took the rights that had to do with orphans, so if it had to do with juvenile delinquents or refugees I took them out, and we ended up with 12 rights of the child. And if you give children, any child in the world, these 12 rights they can reach their full potential. And those rights are the right to a stable, loving, nurturing environment, healthcare and nutrition, clean water, and electric power, guidance from a loving adult, to live in conditions of dignity and freedom, to be protected from abuse and neglect, to be given an education and equal opportunities, and some spiritual development, some ethics.

MarySue Hansell
Yes.

Caroline Boudreaux
So there are 12 rights that we promise children.

MarySue Hansell
Oh, that's great. Now many of the children that you help are not available for adoption. I was surprised at that. Can you tell us why that is?

Caroline Boudreaux
So a lot of orphans are orphans because their mom died or their dad died or their mom is in jail or their dad is in jail, so a lot of orphans have one parent out there. Their parents might be mentally handicapped or physically handicapped, but for some reason or they've been abused but for some reason the kids still have some kind of relative in the country, and so the relatives don't want them to go to another country or even go to another family where they won't ever see them again. So somewhere around 95% of orphans in the world are not available for adoption, which is why --

MarySue Hansell
That's unbelievable.

Caroline Boudreaux
-- yes, it's unbelievable, but it's why it's so important for us to go into orphanages that are already in existence and help them run like a great company, have them run like a family.

MarySue Hansell
Yes, now do these relatives visit them, is that --

Caroline Boudreaux
Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't, I mean there are 141 million orphans in the world, that is how many people live in Russia. So it's this huge problem and then, obviously, there's a story for every single one of them.

MarySue Hansell
Jeez, I'm just so shocked about that. Now you've expanded your work to help more than just orphans in the Miracle Foundation, what else do you do there?

Caroline Boudreaux
Well, really it's anything, anybody that touches the orphanage. So housemothers, one of the things, the right to a stable, loving, nurturing environment, that's about having a mom, that's about having a woman or a guardian that really takes care of you. And so we hire widows, we hire divorced women, we hire women from the low cast, and they become housemothers. We give them a great job, it's a great income, they get a bank account, which gives them access to their kind of social security. So taking care of the women is, of course, the key to taking care of the orphans. So a lot of the work that we do is with the women.

MarySue Hansell
Yes, I saw some of those loving looking individuals on your website and on the Facebook page, and they really look like they're really caring for the children. Now I think I read that it's a one to 20 ratio, and it used to be in other orphanages much higher?

Caroline Boudreaux
Yes, a typical orphanage anywhere in the world has an average caretaker to orphan ratio of one to 80.

MarySue Hansell
Oh, jeez.

Caroline Boudreaux
Yes, I mean that's more kids, you know, so a school bus holds 50 kids, you know? And it's like how can you possibly raise 50 kids?

MarySue Hansell
How could you possibly do that and give them any attention, at all?

Caroline Boudreaux
Yes, and the fact is you can't.

MarySue Hansell
No. Can you share your favorite story with our listeners about the children or a particular child?

Caroline Boudreaux
Well, yes, sure, I mean there are a hundred of them.

MarySue Hansell
Keep on telling me, I love it.

Caroline Boudreaux
Well, one of -- I was at one of the orphanages, and one of rights of a child is the right to be heard and participate in decisions that affect you. And so the way we handle that right is we form Children's Committees, so they're democratically elected Committees, by the children, themselves. And they have, you know, different orphanages have different Committees, but they have a Recreation Committee or a Healthcare Committee or a Nutrition Committee or, you know, they have these Committees within the orphanage. So I was at this orphanage a few months ago and I said raise your hand if you're on a Committee? And about 25% of the kids raised their hand. And I said, raise your hand if you're on the Healthcare Committee. And they raised their hand, and then I said stand up if you are the minister of the Healthcare Committee? And this little eight-year-old orphaned girl stands up, I mean she is so proud of herself that she is the Minister of the Healthcare Committee.

MarySue Hansell
Oh, precious.

Caroline Boudreaux
Precious, I mean just beaming with pride, you know? And I said so tell me what your job is? What's your job on the Healthcare Committee? And she said it's our job to make sure that everybody brushes their teeth every morning and every night. And I said, well, how is she doing, let me see, everybody show me your teeth? So all the kids start showing me their teeth. Well, the driver comes from the back and he shows me his teeth. These kids are getting everybody around them, the housemothers have to brush their teeth, the drivers, the cooks, they're making everybody do it, you know?

MarySue Hansell
Perfect, that's a great story. How about a story about a successful orphanage, some place that you've turned around through your funding and your attention and your procedures?

Caroline Boudreaux
Oh, yes, that would -- yes, there's this one orphanage, when we got there, again, the housemother to child ratio was 80 to one, it was more like 90 to one at that orphanage. The children were listless; they were so malnourished and stunted that they were just literally leaning against the walls.

MarySue Hansell
Oh, my.

Caroline Boudreaux
Yes, they had no beds, no mattresses; they were sleeping just on the floor. They had horrible boils on their skin. The dirty water that they were using -- they were using the same water to wash their clothes, brush their teeth, drink -- I mean it was -- I just don't know how they were surviving. They were barely surviving. And so we started working with this orphanage. We brought in a social worker, which is the first person we bring on to any orphanage. We brought in a social worker, and she hired -- that social worker hired more housemothers to make the ratio 20 to one. We got them beds. We started fixing their skin. We got them vaccinations. We de-wormed them. They were suffering with worms, that's why they were so listless. We de-wormed them. And I'm telling you today this orphanage -- and, by the way, every wall in that whole orphanage was just gray, it was just the color of cement. And we've gone and we've painted every wall, the orphans have painted every wall. It's a total home for children.

MarySue Hansell
So bright colored things?

Caroline Boudreaux
Yes, bright colored, animals, stars, Saturn, you know, the stars, the planets, the whole thing, dogs, cats, horses, elephants. I mean its a children's home, and they -- it's such a children's home; it's such a great place for kids to grow up. They are now playing cricket, they have -- they're all on the growth chart. There's so much energy you almost can't take it. There are 140 kids at this orphanage; I mean theres so much energy it's just impossible to take. And they get milk every day and cookies and great food, and they are --

MarySue Hansell
What a transformation.

Caroline Boudreaux
It's a total transformation, and they are so resilient, and they're doing so much better than we thought. I mean some of these kids are going to get to college. I mean they're studying so hard, I mean they just -- and sadly they told one of my social workers, they said thank you for coming, we always prayed that God would come.

MarySue Hansell
Wow, wow, what a story, what a story.

Raymond Hansell
Amazing.

MarySue Hansell
You know, I saw on your Facebook page I think it was or your website that you have some partnerships with places, like Whole Foods, can you tell us about that?

Caroline Boudreaux
Yes, so we're in Austin, Texas, Whole Foods is in Austin, Texas, we can throw a rock from our Headquarters, which is tiny, to their Headquarters, which is huge. But they are such a purpose driven company, and they offer their employees, they get to go to places where they source their food. They happen to source all their cashews and tea, a lot of their tea in India, and so they asked us, we're going to go, we're going to send our employees to go see this cashew farm, I mean do you think they could go to an orphanage while they're there? And they said absolutely, they're going to love it. Well, they loved it so much they send 60 people a year to the orphanages, and they work and they play with those kids, and it's just been -- it's been phenomenal, and they make a big donation every year. We've had partnerships with National Instruments. National Instruments goes and teaches robotics to the orphans. I mean this is unheard of, I mean these are kids that would never have a chance at an education, and we've partnered with National Instruments and Lego to teach them robotics. So, yes, I mean there's just some fantastic, some fantastic partnerships out there. I mean I think companies are getting to a point where they really want their people to experience some fulfillment.

MarySue Hansell
This is great for everybody.

Caroline Boudreaux
It is, it's great for everybody. We're actually talking to a few more companies now about it, since it's gone so well with Whole Foods.

MarySue Hansell
And we talk, many of our different -- of our episodes have been with positive psychologists that say just doing things like this make you personally happy, so it's good to hear these stories.

Caroline Boudreaux
There's no doubt about it, I mean it's so much for, you know, I tell people do yourself a favor and help these kids because there's so much to it, there's so much in us that comes alive when we help other people come to life, you know?

MarySue Hansell
Right. Now, Caroline, what has been your biggest challenge so far?

Caroline Boudreaux
Oh, my gosh. Oh, MarySue, how long is the program? I mean my elbows and knees are all scraped up, I mean I've just been through -- it's just been very difficult. We've been -- we've had to face corruption, you know, I mean there's lots of corruptions in these countries. And so I'll say with every problem we've had, which we've had a lot, and we've had people stealing things from us and wanting money for things that weren't true. And so we keep engineering our program, our methodology to guard against corruption, to be systematic, you know. So I think getting the people around -- I think getting the cultural change within the orphanages is always a big challenge. They don't know what an orphanage can look like. They don't know when you get, when you start talking to them that, here's a perfect example. One of the housemothers said I think I like the kids better when they were sick because there's so much energy when they're well that they get pretty hard to manage. And you can't be naughty if you're not healthy.

MarySue Hansell
Oh, I see.

Caroline Boudreaux
So the minute they get healthy there's always going to be a couple of naughty kids, and that's when it's going to come out. There are challenges like crazy. I mean we have --

MarySue Hansell
The annoying kids with the biggest smiles, I imagine.

Caroline Boudreaux
What's that?

MarySue Hansell
I said the annoying kids with the biggest smiles.

Caroline Boudreaux
Oh, yes, yes, and precious bad, you know?

MarySue Hansell
Now what are your goals for the future? You've done so much already.

Caroline Boudreaux
Well, we developed a model that is, like I said, based on the 12 rights that the United Nations created. So this model should work in any country that's ratified that Convention on the Rights of the Child. So while we're trying to grow linearly, one orphanage at a time, we're going into more and more orphanages, that's an obvious way to grow, but now we're talking to other countries about using the methodology in their orphanages.

MarySue Hansell
Oh.

Caroline Boudreaux
And that's really the kind of exponential growth and scaling that we're looking for. So it's a really exciting time now.

MarySue Hansell
Oh, are you talking about going to other countries, other than India?

Caroline Boudreaux
Yes, we're talking about that, we're talking about partnering with the Government of India to get this in more orphanages. So it's so exciting, and then there are other countries that really want this.

MarySue Hansell
Now you talk a lot about the importance of family and a family environment for these kids, how important is that for them and how important do you think family is for all of us?

Caroline Boudreaux
I think it's critical. I mean can you imagine not having a mom or a dad?

MarySue Hansell
Can hardly imagine.

Caroline Boudreaux
You can hardly imagine. And, you know, when I was a little girl I'd gone to a department store with my mom, and I went in between the racks. You know like you do, you kind of crawl in between the clothes?

MarySue Hansell
Yes.

Caroline Boudreaux
And I came out and I couldn't find her, and the panic that I had from not, you know, where is she? And I mean it was probably two minutes I was lost, you know? But I just remember that feeling, and these kids feel like that every day. They're absolutely aware that they're alone. And so our job in creating that family environment, when I say it's a 20 to one ratio, those 20 kids are a family, they eat together, they study together, they sleep together, they are boys and girls of different ages, stair-stepped just like a family. Because it's so critical, and while regular people with parents fall in love with their parents, orphans really have to fall in love with each other.

MarySue Hansell
I saw that on the Facebook page, the children hugging one another, and I was wondering even though they're not related they seem like they are just like brothers and sisters, and the housemothers almost seem like their real mothers.

Caroline Boudreaux
Yes, definitely, I mean the housemothers love them. And the more training the housemothers get, the better they do, the happier they are. But families, gosh, the importance of family, and how often I had taken mine for granted, you know? These kids don't ever take anything for granted, that's why I talk about abundance with them, is they have so much abundance because they have enough food, you know?

MarySue Hansell
Well, that's why we want to ask you how can the listeners help you? How can people help you in your mission?

Caroline Boudreaux
Oh, gosh, well, I mean they can go on our Facebook page and like us on Facebook and keep up with us that way. They can go on our website and learn more. The best way to help is to make a decision to help monthly, even $10 a month, $25 a month, it just grows exponentially, and what that really does for us is it helps us plan how many orphanages we can take on because we can expect that money.

MarySue Hansell
So I saw on there something about sponsoring an orphanage, how does that work?

Caroline Boudreaux
Yes, so that's -- it costs us about $100 a month to give a child all 12 rights, and so we call it a sponsorship level. It's $100 a month, and you get cards from the kids, you get letters from the kids, you find out about different children and different orphanages. It's really great because you kind of get to know the kids on a personal level, and everybody wants to know them on a personal level. They're so powerful.

Raymond Hansell
Well, this is an amazing story. And, you know, your enthusiasm for somebody that's been doing this for a number of years is incredible, it's as if you just started yesterday, so.

Caroline Boudreaux
Well, thanks. It's because MarySue asked me about the kids, you know?

Raymond Hansell
That's where the love comes.

MarySue Hansell
That's my weakness, too.

Raymond Hansell
Well, we're going to take another break right now, but when we come back we'll talk more with Caroline Boudreaux. We'll be right back.

Raymond Hansell
We're back now with Caroline Boudreaux, founder of the Miracle Foundation.

Gregory Hansell
Hi, Caroline, this is Greg.

Caroline Boudreaux
Hi, Greg.

Gregory Hansell
I wanted to ask you what have you learned about yourself through this whole journey, from before you even went to India to today? How has this changed you?

Caroline Boudreaux
I think I've gotten a new level of selflessness, if you will. I know that's kind of a funny answer, but before I was always trying to get to the next thing and the next car and the next jewelry, the next, but now I realize that in giving, being a philanthropist, I mean that feels better than any kind of car you can drive or any kind of jewelry you can buy. And so I just kind of learned that it's really in giving that you receive so much. I think that's one of the biggest changes for me. And then, of course, when I was in business I was a little bit, it wasn't such a team effort. I didn't have to bring everybody along, I could just make unilateral decisions and things would just go the way I wanted them to, and but in this thing this is such a team effort, it just -- talk about bringing people along with you, you know?

Gregory Hansell
Yes.

Caroline Boudreaux
And so it's been a really interesting venture. And I know you guys are entrepreneurs, serial entrepreneurs, and so I think another big learning lesson for me is that when you're in the business world and something happens, let's say you're a policeman or something and you have an emergency. Well, you have a process and a procedure, you know, and everybody looks to you and the process and procedure is there, and while it might be an emergency to the person suffering it, the people that are working it know exactly what to do. But in an entrepreneurial venture when something happens there are no processes and procedures, I mean you're just the first to know.

Gregory Hansell
Yes.

Caroline Boudreaux
And so the whole team is looking at you going what do we do, what do you do? And you don't know what to do anymore than anybody else, so.

Gregory Hansell
That's right, you say --

Caroline Boudreaux
Right, right, that's not right.

Gregory Hansell
Absolutely, you have that every day.

Caroline Boudreaux
Yes, it's like you're just making it up every day, you know?

Gregory Hansell
That's right. Well, since this has been such a team effort, let me ask you what you've learned about other people, as well?

Caroline Boudreaux
Oh, that if everybody can come to the table with their best. One of the things, I brought on a Chief Operating Officer in 2009, and we made an agreement that whoever cares more about something wins.

Gregory Hansell
That's great.

Caroline Boudreaux
Yes, it's been great. And so it's wonderful to leverage people's strengths and also know your weaknesses. I think that's one of the big things is to know your weaknesses. You know, I'm not real strong operationally, but she's super strong operationally, so we depend on her for that side, you know?

Gregory Hansell
Yes, yes. Any other big surprises of just this whole journey that you've gone through?

Caroline Boudreaux
I'm surprised that, and not just on this journey but really in working around the world and with the World Economic Forum and with the economists, with the economist magazine and some of the other people in the nonprofit world, the United Nations millennium goals, we're really on the brink of fixing these huge problems of infant mortality and maternal mortality and people dying of hunger. I mean we really are on the brink of the biggest human accomplishment ever which is to end human suffering and poverty. You know, the United Nations predicts we're 17 years away from that, that in 2030 we will have ended hunger.

Gregory Hansell
That's amazing.

Caroline Boudreaux
Yes, so I love the fact that we're on the brink of this, and that it's really working. We've thrown money at the third world for so long, and I think there was a lot of donor fatigue and I think people got really tired of it, but now that metrics are in place and we really know how to do it and we've learned our hard lessons we're really making progress. It's so exciting.

Gregory Hansell
I'm so glad you said that. I think a lot of people don't know how close we are and how far we've come, and they don't know -- there is I think still, unfortunately, a lot of donor fatigue out there for a lot of different areas, and people don't realize, wow, we can really make a difference, we can make this happen. It's not a big black hole, change is possible, you know?

Caroline Boudreaux
Absolutely, and the orphans -- this is a solvable problem. We know exactly how to do it, and so it's very exciting. And, if you don't mind, I'll just tell you in 1974 we didn't know as a world that there was enough food on the planet. We actually thought that the reason people were dying of hunger was because there wasn't enough food on the planet. Then an organization showed up that was called The Hunger Project, started by a woman named Joan Holmes, funded by John Denver, actually, the singer. And they started benchmarking the people, the number of people that were dying a day of hunger. And in 1978 they said, and they had to really calculate the database and they said people don't die of diarrhea; you're only dying of diarrhea because you don't have enough calories in your body. So we're going to say everybody that they said was dying of diarrhea they're actually dying of hunger. So they really had to figure out the metrics. And in 1978 they told the world, number one, that there was enough food in the world. Nobody knew that before. Number two, that they were going to try to end it. People thought they were crazy. And, number three, they reported that 40,000 children were dying a day of hunger, 40,000. Well, today, fast forward to 2013, today -- I mean it's 2014, but the last numbers out were in 2013, there are 8,500 children dying a day of hunger. So I mean we've made great progress, and this is with the population boom, great progress is being made.

Gregory Hansell
It's incredible.

Caroline Boudreaux
It's incredible.

Gregory Hansell
It really is, and it's inspiring, it's nice to hear that, nice to tell the people at home that what they do can make a difference and that real progress has been made. I know that you've talked, you actually just mentioned this a minute ago and I've seen this on your website materials about this notion of abundance. And I know you've said that your work with orphans has really made you think about abundance and what it means to really have enough. Can you talk a bit about that, what you think it means to have enough and experiencing that kind of abundance?

Caroline Boudreaux
Yes, thank you for asking that question, and that's the magic word. I think the conversation about abundance happens, starts with the word enough. And the empathy bridge that we can have with the poor, you know, the way we can really -- people can identify with the poor is to look at the way Americans look at time. We just act like we never have enough, we're so busy, our hair is on fire every -- you know, it's just we never have enough of it. Well, so that's how the poor think about food and resources.

Gregory Hansell
Yes.

Caroline Boudreaux
And once the poor start getting enough food and enough resources, so once we take children from malnourished, not eating every day, to getting four good meals a day, going to school, you know, once they've reached that platform of enough their whole world changes. They don't really see things like, oh, when I get there I'm going to be okay. They realize that they're okay now. And so just if your listeners will just play with me a second, so you know is I would really just stop and think. The fact is I really do have enough.

Gregory Hansell
Yes.

Caroline Boudreaux
I really do have enough food, I really do have enough time, and it just calms us down and it takes that abundance word from the head, like down into the heart. Yes, and the other way to look at it, and I learned this from the orphans, too, if I was an orphan, if I was living in a place where I didn't have a mom or a dad and I didn't have enough food every day I'd probably be a pretty bad pity party. I probably would have a hard time getting over that, but like I said, once they reach that platform of enough, that level that I think in America a lot of us are just born with, thats what were looking for. I never didn't have enough.

Gregory Hansell
Yes.

Caroline Boudreaux
Once they reach that platform of enough they just think about things so differently. They decide that they're going to make the decision about what their life is going to look like as opposed to us sometimes in this culture where we say, well, I'm going to let circumstances determine my outlook, like and what orphans do is they say I am going to determine, I'm going to decide how I handle this. And so that's how they base their studying, and they start playing great, and they start, you know, they just their whole life changes when they realize that they have enough and that they're going to make the decision about their life and not let circumstances do it.

Gregory Hansell
Well, then what's your best advice for those people at home with their hair on fire or us entrepreneurs with our hair on fire and honestly make them realize the abundance in their own life, how do we realize we have enough?

Caroline Boudreaux
I think a big part of it is there's that story about that guy who, you know, he was hired to make a map, this is hundreds of years ago, he was hired to make a map. And so he hires some local tribesmen, and he makes them work. And they're working and they're walking through the land, and then on the seventh day they just stop. And he says what are you doing, we need to continue to work? And they say, well, we don't work on the seventh day, the seventh day we just don't work. And the guy is like, well, I'm paying you to work, I didn't pay you to take any days off. And they said, well, we've got to let our souls catch up with us.

Gregory Hansell
Yes.

Caroline Boudreaux
You know, I think there's something to that Sabbath, something to that stop and let your soul catch up with you that we've kind of gotten away from, that I got away from. So I definitely think that quiet time, that time to just stop and take a break, take it easy really does -- I think that's a really good prescription.

Gregory Hansell
I think that's perfect.

Caroline Boudreaux
Yes.

Gregory Hansell
I'm curious you've turned your life around to do great things and help others, and I want to know if you think can everyone do the same, do we all have it in our power to make a difference?

Caroline Boudreaux
No doubt about it, I mean it's why we're here. I think if you're not making a difference you're missing out, you're not playing full on. I think it's the call on everyone's life is to figure out what it is that you can do to make a difference.

Gregory Hansell
I agree.

Caroline Boudreaux
Yes, and it's that higher level of selfishness, I mean that's where the fun gets. I mean that's what's really fun is to be able to give other people life, it's the best, you know, thrill in the whole world, best drug in the whole world.

Gregory Hansell
That's true. One thing we talk about here a lot at BetterWorldians Radio is that, you mention it in a way, the very first thing I asked you is it's a kind of a selfishness, it's good to be good, it feels incredible to be good, and it's the most rewarding thing people can experience. And through what we do here and what we do with our Facebook game, A Better World, we're really trying to show people see how you feel when you do good every day, see how you feel when you do good for someone else and pick them up and dust them off. And overall it will help you feel as, wow, yes, that does feel better, wow, that does make a difference.

Caroline Boudreaux
Yes, it's the best game out there. And it would be different if the world didn't need us, and it would be different if it wasn't a winning game, a game you could win, but this is a game we can win.

Gregory Hansell
Yes, well, I'd love to take some questions from listeners now. As you know, some really wonderful questions came in from Facebook, and I think we have some time before the break to take a few of those. Let's see, a question came in from James, how does it feel when a donation comes in, knowing it's going to make the difference in the life of a child?

Caroline Boudreaux
It's a total thrill, it's a total thrill. If I could tell the kids I would, you know? Yes, I just love it, and I think it's one of those things like you were saying, Greg, it's one of those things you just don't regret. I mean no one gives to a nonprofit and regrets it later, unless the nonprofit doesn't keep up their end of the bargain.

Gregory Hansell
That's right.

Caroline Boudreaux
Yes, so, yes, I love it. I mean and I still get to use my business brain and still get to -- I still enjoy the hunt, yes.

Gregory Hansell
Absolutely. I think a lot of people have the misconception that nonprofits aren't businesses, that they're not difficult to run, and in my experience I spent some time in that world, they can be much more difficult to run, you know?

Caroline Boudreaux
Yes, and they definitely should be run with metrics and they definitely should be run like a business. I mean I think we're doing the world a disservice if we don't run it like a business.

Gregory Hansell
Yes, I agree. Well, thank you for that question, James. And here's another Facebook question that came in, as you find -- this is perfect, actually -- efficient ways to make a difference within your organization are you able to share that information with other organizations facing similar challenges?

Caroline Boudreaux
So the short answer is yes, we are open sourcing everything. So we have life skills education, I mean we have life skills education that we teach the kids, we have 14 modules of life skills education that we've made specific to age groups. And so these are things that your parents normally tech you, like the difference between good touch and bad touch, your body and you, what are problem solving skills, how to think critically about a problem, emotionality. So we have these amazing life skills modules and we are open sourcing them, so anybody at any orphanage can teach them to their kids. Same things with housemother training, we have 16 modules of housemother training, all about child development, how to take care of yourself as a mom, what are great alternatives to corporal punishment. And so these are other things that we're open sourcing and just letting other people have. The job descriptions for the accountants that live onsite, I mean that work onsite. The job descriptions for social workers that live on site, so we are open sourcing everything.

Gregory Hansell
I think that's great that you're sharing that, those insights, those metrics.

Caroline Boudreaux
Oh, I killed myself to get them, I mean if I could save somebody else some pain, you know?

Gregory Hansell
Yes, well, thank you for that question. Let's see, maybe we have time for at least one more, a question from Keith, what are the biggest challenges in raising the money to do the great work you know needs to be done and that you, of course, want to do?

Caroline Boudreaux
Well, I know that a lot of people have problems raising money. I think that's what people -- I think that's a big thing that a lot of nonprofits are struggling with. For us, for my organization we work so hard on getting the model down, the replicable, systematic, measureable model down that really the fundraising hasn't been as hard because I think that fundraising happens when you can prove impact. So I usually say impact over income, so because our impact is so strong, the income comes to us. So I am a fundraiser by nature. I'm passionate about this, and I think between the passion and the measurements, the metrics, the proof, it makes fundraising easier. People want to know that their money, where their money is going and how you're using their money. And if you can do that for people fundraising becomes a lot easier.

Gregory Hansell
I think that's a great point, that's something that's very important to us here. We've always partnered with people where we really feel like the money does the most good. People don't want to pad anybody's wallet or their office, they want to know that they're doing real profound good. So thank you for saying that.

Caroline Boudreaux
Yes, and I think it's the new brink of nonprofit world. The question was always what percentage of your money goes to the program? And our answer to that is it's currently 84%, 84% of every dollar goes directly into the program. But the new question and another great question, and just as important, is how do you know it's working?

Gregory Hansell
Right.

Caroline Boudreaux
Yes.

Raymond Hansell
It's clear you're doing quite a lot to make a significant impact on the Miracle Foundation, and I compliment you for your enthusiasm. As you said earlier, that you are playing full on, and I think your mother's comment about responsibility, which is the ability to respond, she'd be pretty proud with everything that you're doing. So my compliments for everything that you're doing to make the world a better place. We're going to wrap up at this point. You can find out more about the Miracle Foundation by going to Miracle Foundation Dot Org. Caroline, we'd like to thank you, again, for joining us on BetterWorldians Radio.

Caroline Boudreaux
Thank you, thank you, guys.

Gregory Hansell
You're welcome.

Raymond Hansell
You're very welcome. Please join us next week on BetterWorldians Radio. We're going to be talking to Steve Moeller, the Author of Endorphin-nomics, a book about finding the balance between personal happiness and financial success. We have an excellent lineup of guests in the coming weeks, and if you know an unsung BetterWorldian who you think would make a great guest on our show you can send us an e-mail at RADIO AT BETTERWORLDIANS DOT COM. We'd like to remind everyone that you can be a part of miracle by simply sharing our Video Challenge and help heal 10 disabled children. It's that easy, just go to Color With Kindness Dot Com, watch the video and share it with your friends. Give these kids the gift of a lifetime. We'd like to thank everyone today for listening. You can join us at the BetterWorldian Community at BETTERWORLDIANS DOT COM, and until next time, please, be a BetterWorldian.