In the past 5 years, since she was nine years old, she’s raised over $50,000, opened several libraries, a computer lab, sewing training center and science lab. She’s also helped provide education, medical care, clothing and food for hundreds of kids. In fact, at only 14 years old, Neha Gupta has accomplished more to help people than most middle-aged adults. How in the world can she do all this?
I became interested in Neha’s story when I realized that not only is she still a kid, she also helps orphans in India–a country that hold a special place in my own heart. Although Neha, doesn’t live in India, she has certainly made her mark there in the improving the lives of over 2,000 children. I asked her to share the story of what she is doing to help, in her own words.
Neha Gupta: “As my grandparents live in India, I often visit the country. In keeping with family tradition, we volunteer at an orphanage each time we visit my grandparent’s hometown, located in northern India. In 2005, when I was nine years old, I realized that the 200 children who live at the orphanage did not have adequate money to gain a proper education; I felt very sad when I heard this because I know the importance of education. Moreover, it was heartbreaking for me to think that these children had no mother or father to guide them, protect them, or love them. I later discovered that orphaned and underprivileged children are at a constant risk of slipping into a life of crime or prostitution due to insufficient education or technical skills. This may result in more abandoned children and society further neglecting these children or abusing them.
Instead of internalizing these feelings and merely showing empathy for the orphans and underprivileged children, I decided to take action. To formalize my efforts, I created and registered non-profit organization, Empower Orphans, with the goal to help the children gain a better education, be able to stand on their own feet and ultimately become positive contributors to society. The organization is registered in the US and helps children globally. Currently, the organization has chapters run by volunteer teams (typically teens and tweens) in US, UK, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and India.
Till now, I have positively and directly impacted the lives of more than 2,000 orphaned or underprivileged children by providing them with a better education and healthcare. Some of the concrete contributions have been:
· Opened 3 libraries in underprivileged schools and provided about 10000 books to these libraries.
· Started a computer lab with 4 computers, printers, power supply and internet access.
· Started a Sewing Center for older girls. Also donated 30 sewing machines to graduating girls to start their own business and stand on their own feet.
· Started a science lab for underprivileged children. In future years, this lab will be expanded.
· Conducted a 4-day Eye and Dental Clinic for 360 children. 56 children received more advanced eye care, while 103 children received further dental treatment.
· Sponsored the complete education of 50 children (till their undergraduate studies). Additional children will be sponsored in upcoming years.
· Provided nutritious food, school bags, shoes, warm clothes and blankets to thousands of children.
Additionally, I support a couple of organizations (Christ’s Home for Children and Mission Kids) in the US.
The experience and fulfillment that I have received by making a difference in the lives of orphaned and underprivileged children, is incomparable to any other experiences I have had or any accolade or gift that I have received.
In this world there are millions of orphans who go through life every day without any parental love or guidance, proper food or shelter. Some people say that we cannot stop this, but I believe that we have the power to change anything with determination.
Personally, once I turned my empathy into action, it opened my eyes to the fulfillment one receives in helping others; the smiles, hugs, and goodwill are the best feelings one can experience. By interacting with the community, I have gained confidence, marketing, and communication skills. Accepting rejecting and persevering despite it, is just part of the process. Through becoming involved with issues at hand in the world, it has opened my eyes to the level of poverty and challenges faced by people.
Overall, getting involved with issues that affect the community and the world are key factors in becoming responsible, well-educated, and sophisticated citizens. Becoming that “one person”, who is able to make a positive change in others’ lives, does not mean that there is a one in a million chance. What it means, is that every single person has the ability to be that “one”. We all can do it, as long as we turn our empathy into action. However, it all begins when you are young. There is an inordinate amount that young people gain from helping others. In conclusion, I would like to communicate this message to all kids, to show them that even ONE person has power and that he/she can make a difference in the world.”
What an incredible list of accomplishments from a kid who would normally only be able to list her grades and maybe a couple small community projects on her kidsume’ (my word for a kid’s resume). What’s even more striking though is that Neha is just like most other kids her age. It’s not her IQ that enables her to get out and do all the things she does. Neha helps others because that’s what makes her happy and fulfilled.
How many kids in the world do you know who would love to do something that gives their life real meaning?
To learn more about Neha’s organization, or to contribute towards her efforts, visit EmpowerOrphans.org.