How An Org. Dedicated To Lifting Girls Out Of Poverty Changed The Course Of My Mother’s Life (And Mine!)

Image by Alex Hanel, NPH International

By Miranda Malone

If only we, as women, knew we had such power. Power to not only enrich our own lives but positively change the destiny of little girls who, without our help, would likely become another grim statistic—prone to repeated violence and endless hunger and insecurity.

I am a living testimony to this empowerment that comes from the generosity of others. And my story begins with my mother’s story.

At the young age of three or four, my mother and her brothers and sisters were left alone to fend for themselves in Mexico due to tragic circumstances. Barely past the “toddler stage,” my mother already knew hunger and experienced devastating loss. Then, miraculously, in 1972 at 4 or 5 years old, she and her siblings were taken into the NPH family.

Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH) is Spanish for “our little brothers and sisters.” It is an organization that strives to help highly vulnerable children by providing whatever a family strives to give. 

My mother said that, once with NPH, she did not need to worry about her security or where her next meal would come from. She could enjoy the simplicities of childhood. 

In Latin America and the Caribbean, where more than one million girls between the ages of 15 and 19 have experienced sexual or other forms of violence, NPH creates a safe space for girls and young women to thrive. At the NPH home, kids could just be kids and grow, safe and sound. Studying became one of my mother’s favorite things to do growing up. For kids like my mother, they were given the resources, support, and environment needed for them to be able to flourish. This contrasts with the one in three girls ages 18 to 24, (totaling well over 18 million young women), who aren’t able to be in school or find adequate work.  

My mother excelled in her studies, and NPH provided the support needed for her to pursue higher education. All “pequeños,” (what we affectionately call children who grow up with NPH) give back a year of service, and so my mother worked at the Mexico home before continuing her studies.  

During a break from university, while visiting her NPH Mexico home, Mamá met my father who was serving as a volunteer from the United States. They would remain in contact over the following years, but it wasn’t until after my mother started a job working as an accountant that she began to consider a relationship. 

I found this very admirable–that she focused on her education and career before considering marriage and a family. Mexico and many other Latin American countries have “machismo” as a strong influence on social dynamics. This means men are the providers, protectors, and leaders of a family, and women default to getting married and having kids, usually quite young and at the expense of an education, which subjugates women’s independence and empowerment. 

My mother did not feel the need to find a husband that would take care of and provide for her. She was able to pursue higher education, put in the work for her independence and self-reliance, and follow her own path in life, not what is stipulated by society. She was able to have a career, but also could find a healthy relationship and have a family on her own accord.

Miranda Malone, with some of the Pequeños in Honduras as she volunteers for NPH

Looking back at how I viewed my mother over the years, she would talk about her time growing up in NPH with joy as she thought fondly of the time she spent learning, playing, and making many life-long friends and relationships. These are key factors in empowering women that we often take for granted. 

I have always had the utmost respect and admiration for my mother. I have always seen her as a kind and loving individual, and these sentiments have only strengthened with time as I have grown up and gained a better perspective on what my mother has undergone to get to the point where she is at now. I have sought to emulate my mother’s notable compassion that others see and grow into an individual that can give back everything that I have received and more. My mother’s effort and determination have afforded me the opportunities I now have in life and fueled my capacity to succeed. 

Throughout my whole life I felt incredibly safe, secure, and loved, and had a strong foundation to grow from. My mother would always emphasize the importance of education, with reading and studying being promoted and encouraged at a young age. I was taught to be self-motivated, to work hard and throw myself into my education, and it has resulted in some incredible things. I have been able to get a world-class education; follow my passions and play soccer competitively; and pursue enriching volunteer and career opportunities.

As for my growth as a person, I am looking to be an individual capable of being useful to the world. I think that the most impactful thing a person can do is ensure the health and happiness of an individual, so I am following the path to become a doctor one day.

In the midst of this path, I am currently working as a volunteer for NPH Honduras and will be a Patient Coordinator in the One World Surgery Center. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work with NPH and help in so many ways. The One World Surgery Center provides free surgical procedures for kids at the “ranch” and others in the community who could not afford the treatment they need. I am ecstatic to start my work there and help improve the lives of many people. 

Not only will I be able to help in the surgery center, but as a volunteer, I will help look after the children in the NPH ranch. We can step in as both a friend and mentor to provide love and support for the kids. In each of the kids I see on the ranch, I see my mother, working hard towards a better life for herself.

My mother has found what she values most and is achieving her potential rather than being greatly limited as a woman. Knowing where she came from and the vulnerable position she was in as a young child, I am thoroughly impressed by all she accomplished, and I look forward to seeing what she will do in the future.

The scary part is that, without the support of countless people through NPH, my mother would be a totally different person, and her story would likely not be mine. It is nearly impossible to find this level of success when you lack the resources needed to simply survive. It is nearly impossible for children to seek higher education, a satisfying life path, and reach more ambitious goals in life when they lack food, clean water, a safe and secure home, or love and support. When these needs are provided, kids—girls like my mother–are able to reach their full potential and work towards a better life and future.

WE have the power to make this happen. Please visit

Miranda’s parents

Miranda Malone was born and raised in Chicago. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a BA in Neuroscience and a minor in East Asian Language and Civilizations. She is currently volunteering with Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos in Honduras as a Patient Coordinator with One World Surgery. She plans on enrolling in medical school in the future.