Out of the 1.2 billion people in India, 25 million are orphaned or abandoned children. What remains for them on the streets of the world’s second largest country? Not much. Many of them grow up as beggars or are forced into child labor and sex slavery. They would be thankful for one meal a day or any form of education at all.
When Dominic and Lindsay Russo first visited India on a humanitarian trip, this was the bleak picture they encountered. Hoping to change the lives of at least some of these destitute children, the Russos founded Angel House, a nonprofit organization that builds rescue homes in India, where children can live in a safe, loving environment that provides them with adequate nutrition and ensures that they receive education at the local public school.
Angel House currently has 12 rescue homes operating in India and plans to open 12 more in 2012. To ensure that their mission continues, a local Santa Clarita teen has planned a tea party fundraiser to raise money for two Angel House orphanages.
Fifteen-year-old Kelli Younger first visited India with her family last December, when they helped open six Angel Houses. The trip made quite an impact on her.
“I just decided personally when I saw it, that there needed to be more of them, more of these Angel Houses. Even though I’m only fifteen, I figured that I can still do it,” she said.
The fundraiser, planned for May 20 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., will include a formal tea party as well as auctions and raffles. With 200 women already planning to attend and tickets at $50 each, Younger expects to raise $15,000 for the two orphanages.
She also hopes that her efforts will encourage her peers to rise up and make a difference, commenting, “I just figured that I could be a voice for the young people. If I spoke up, and I raised money for an orphanage, then I could start telling young people … about my experience and how I raised the money, and that would inspire them to also do things, like maybe have a bake sale or a garage sale and raise money for their own orphanage.”
She was inspired by Dominic Russo’s recent book “Do Not Say I Am Too Young.” Though still a teenager, she has a vision for India and confidence that Angel House will be able to use her donation to help women and children realize their full potential.
“(O)ne of the orphanages we went to, there was a house parent. … He spent two hours a day with the children, talking to them and teaching them to be business leaders and to be officials and to be part of the government, that they could be big in life, that they could make something of themselves, even though the society had taught them they were nothing,” Younger said. “To me, seeing that the Angel Houses were actually teaching the kids to make something of themselves and be world-shakers, that got my support fully for these orphanages, that they weren’t just going to give these kids food and treat them poorly or anything, that they were actually taking care of them like they were sons and daughters.”
If you are interested in learning more about Angel House or how to get involved in their work in India, click here.