VOA Special English – Tanya Pinto Helps Needy Children in India

In 2005, Tanya Pinto was a successful young businesswoman in Dallas, Texas. But she decided to take three months off from work at an advertising company to visit her birthplace, India.

She volunteered at Mother Teresa’s home for orphans in Kolkata. She also traveled, and saw children in great need. Ms. Pinto said that experience changed her life. And that is why she decided to start an aid organization. She returned to her job in Texas and began Baal Dan Charities. In Hindi, the name means “child donation.”

India has an estimated eighteen million poor children. Some charity workers say the conditions on the streets are, if anything, worse than those shown in the film “Slumdog Millionaire.” Many children depend on international charity projects like Baal Dan.

At first, Baal Dan provided street children with clothes. Today, the organization gives money to orphanages, schools and local projects. The money provides food, medicine, schoolbooks and some education. The work is centered in Kolkata, Hyderabad and Kerala province.

Tanya Pinto started her project with small donations from friends and co-workers. She said she would pass them in the hallway and they would say, Hey, the next time you go back to India, here is twenty dollars, here is fifty dollars, here is ten dollars for the children.”

Today, Baal Dan has other financial supporters in the United States. People organize events to raise money. A restaurant in Dallas donates money whenever anyone orders “Tacos for a Cause.”

In the next several years, Tanya Pinto hopes to begin sponsoring an orphanage, a home for children who have no parents. She visits India as often as she can while working full-time at the advertising company. Her last trip was in May.

She said she takes the children to the zoo or the park and likes to bring some fun into their lives. She talked about a trip when she visited a care center operated by a local group that her charity has helped. Two boys recognized her. They had met her at a shelter at a railway station the year before. The children, she says, were rescued from the streets and were doing well.

Tanya Pinto says you do not have to be wealthy or well known to help others.

(Adapted from a radio program broadcast of August 10, 2009.)

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