The Austin-based nonprofit has already helped more than 13,500 children, and CEO Leslie Beasley is hopeful for its 2040 goal.
By Alexis Green, Photo courtesy of Leslie Beasley
In a remote part of India, a brother and sister are playing alone in an orphanage. Curious as to why they weren’t with the other children, Leslie Beasley asked to hear their story.
The siblings were among a smaller percentage of orphans who no longer had living parents. After their parents died, they couldn’t pay off an inherited debt, instead becoming indentured servants. Their older sister reached out to Miracle Foundation and the foundation prepared to rescue them at any cost.
The amount of money to buy them out of servanthood still shocks Beasley to this day: $20. For the siblings, $20 was the price of escaping a life of hardship to get an education and find a safe home at an orphanage sponsored by the foundation.
While their story is one of the more extreme cases, these children are not alone. Eight million children live in institutions throughout the world. Miracle Foundation aims to eradicate this problem by providing necessities to children and reconnecting them with either living relatives or families willing to foster or adopt the kids. Austinites can contribute to the organization by volunteering and donating to the cause.
“There are systems that we can put in place to ensure children are in the right place and can thrive,” Beasley says. “They have the right to a sense of belonging and love that only a family can provide.”
According to the foundation’s website, its efforts have supported more than 13,500 children and works with 1,800 government officials to create programs for a “systematic and sustainable change” to positively impact the world. Going beyond the children, the organization works to educate and provide relatives with the training necessary to raise a child.
By 2040, the foundation hopes to put an end to the “orphan crisis” by providing every child with a loving home.
“We’re committed to long-term care for the families where they can support themselves with a life of dignity,” Beasley says.
Beasley joined Miracle Foundation as the president of the organization in 2018 and currently serves as its CEO.
With an “if not me, then who” mentality, Beasley has committed more than 25 years of her life to nonprofit work. With a background of groundwork in Africa and India, her passion for seeking justice for those who are less fortunate drives her.
“I just have this core belief that when others are better off, I’m better off,” Beasley says. “I want to live well, love well and spend time on things that matter to me.”
Traveling the world opened her eyes to the beauty of different cultures. Her experiences with people from diverse backgrounds provided wisdom and empathy to see that people often share more similarities than differences.
“There’s not just one way to view the world,” Beasley says. “No matter where we live or how we live, we’re much more the same than we are different. We all want our children to be in a safe and loving world [and]everyone wants to live a life that matters.
Her days go by in a blink. They often consist of working with government officials or empowering her team of 70 to “unleash their gifts and talents” for the betterment of children.
Change, however, takes time. While the 2040 goals seem impossibly close, Beasley describes it as not soon enough.
“The hardest part is to be on the ground and see real suffering,” Beasley says. “We have to work as smart, effective and sustainably as possible because children are waiting.”
Beasley also struggles with watching people falsely villainize parents who place their kids in the system. She explains 80 percent of the children that live in institutions have a living relative that can care for them. Many people believe parents give up a child out of a lack of love, but love is precisely why some chose to make that difficult decision.
Orphanages provide the education, food and necessities parents cannot always provide themselves, especially in remote villages. For them, there is no other way to give a child what he or she needs.
Miracle Foundation’s primary goal is providing an alternative to orphanages. Even the best institutions cannot replicate the love and support a family can provide. Empowering families to provide a good life for their children is the foundation’s ultimate goal.
But the fight can seem ambitious. Orphanages have existed for centuries. Putting an end to them now may seem impossible to some, but Beasley is determined.
“Putting somebody on the moon was impossible until it was possible,” Beasley says. “We believe it’s solvable. We’re going make sure [orphanages]come to an end.”
Providing her own four children with a future where every kid has a loving family makes Beasley’s hard work worth it. As Beasley continues turning this dream into reality, she encourages others to find their passion and act on it. While working globally is her focus, she knows change can happen anywhere.
“People get paralyzed because they don’t know what to do. It all feels really big,” Beasley says. “Look right around [yourself] and find something that [you’re] interested in. Do something, no matter how small, because the small things are what lead to bigger things.”