SWFL woman’s nonprofit supports Indian children in need

Nearly 9,000 miles separate Southwest Florida from India, but one Bonita Springs Family built a bridge to connect the two places. After seeing the struggle families face overseas, this family created a way to help. We learned how they are lifting children out of poverty.

Michelle Stephens and her 7-year-old daughter, Sophia, stuff backpacks to transform the lives of children living thousands of miles away.

The Stephens family do this through nonprofit The Mahaan Aasha Foundation, which translates directly to The Great Hope Foundation. Michelle and her family founded the nonprofit after witnessing the child poverty that exists in parts of India.

“We have about a thousand kids that we support in India,” Michelle said.

It all started in 2015 when Michelle and her husband chose to celebrate their wedding anniversary in India and saw a great need there.

“Lines along the streets were tons and tons of children,” Michelle said. “A lot of them didn’t have shoes on. Some of the youngest ones didn’t even have clothes on. With every step we took down this street, my heart was literally breaking just more and more. I told my husband, ‘We have to do something about this.’”

After returning to Bonita Spring, the family formed Great Hope to support Indian Families facing starvation and other hardships.

Nonprofit Founder/President Michelle Stephens with children in India. Credit: Photo shared with WINK News.

“Mahaan Ashi is Hindi for great hope,” Michelle said. “Great hope that all of us in the world can reach in and basically eradicate childhood poverty.”

Now, the family takes trips to India together to see smiles they are putting on children’s faces. It is the family’s great hope to see all children worldwide succeed. Some of the Stephens’ recent funding built a wall to keep poisonous snakes out of an Indian orphanage.

Anyone interested in connecting with the family and foundation can visit the Great Hope’s Facebook page.

“When we do come see our kids, they’re very excited; they’re very happy,” Michelle said.

This is an impact the family makes possible through partnerships with Southwest Florida charities and via community contributions that go directly to families in India.

“We’ve been able to do so much,” Michelle said. “Building buildings, finding school supplies, eyeglasses, eye exams, alleviating flood disaster.”

Reporter:Melinda Lee
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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