Spotlight on Sponsors - Mira and Alex Berko
Mira Berko is a lead teacher at Headstart. Her husband Alex is an IT professional at Traveler's Insurance. Together they sponsor Devagi, who is now in 9th grade.
As a teacher, Mira understands how fortunate Indian students feel to be able to get an education. "You can see it in their eyes". They listen intently in class, not because they are scared, but because they want more than anything to be there.
Mira has been involved with the sponsorship program since she was 9 years old. She loved visiting the school every winter when her family went to India, observing classes, helping cook and serve meals to the students, and getting to know some of the sponsored children. She went into their villages with mobile clinics, and handed out blankets to people who had lost their homes in monsoon rains.
"When I was in India and saw the poverty there, I realized if I hadn't been adopted, I could have been on the side of the road begging. I could have been a child in need of an education without anyone to sponsor me. Because I have been given so much, it has always been very important to me to be able to offer something to children in need, both in India and here in the States".
Mira says she has always gravitated toward sponsoring children with disabilities, because she herself struggled in school. Her current sponsor child, Devagi, had difficulty speaking when she was young, but has worked hard and improved tremendously. As a dyslexic student, Mira was relieved and grateful when her parents found teachers who understood the way she learned, and who could help her develop the skills she needed to succeed academically. Eventually, she went on to earn a Masters degree.
Mira and Alex are happy they are able to help Devagi get an education. Like Mira, Alex finds great joy in helping others. Initially, he became interested in Aruna Partnership because of its importance in Mira's life. Over time, Alex has become more and more involved. He built and maintains the Aruna Partnership website, posts the newsletters, and is currently developing an inventory tracking system for the handcraft project. Alex has donated so many hours to Aruna Partnership that his company offers a matching grant for the time Alex gives.
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