Making a Difference: Tanya Pinto
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This is the VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT.
In two thousand five, 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.
TANYA PINTO: "And that experience was life changing. And that's why I decided to start a charity."
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.
TANYA PINTO: "I 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. She visits India as often as she can while working full-time at the advertising company. Her last trip was in May.
TANYA PINTO: "I will take the children on an outing as well. I will take them to the zoo or to the park. And so I'll do things that are really fun activities, because these are children who are living in unimaginable poverty. So I like to bring some fun into their lives."
(SOUND OF CHILDREN IN INDIA)
She talks 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.
TANYA PINTO: "Even if you are not a celebrity, if you are not rich, if you are not famous, you can do something to help make this world a better place."
(SOUND OF CHILDREN IN INDIA)
And that's the VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT, written by Jerilyn Watson, with Gregg Flakus in Dallas. You can find transcripts and podcasts of our reports at voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Steve Ember.