Hometown Heroes: Niraj Patel, M.D.

The Dumda location, home of the “Tree Of Hope.”

The Dumda location, home of the “Tree Of Hope.”

By Joan Frances –

Generosity, compassion, benevolence. These are words to describe people who care for their fellow man, no matter who they are or where they live. Men and women of all cultures and religions, uniting for a purpose, to help other people in need. Heroes, who donate their time for something they believe in, a cause, a fight, a lasting imprint. Humanitarians who make a difference. The team at Hope Endowment made a promise when they began working with the orphans in India, “to shelter and educate a child from youth to adulthood.” Thanks to a group of devoted individuals, tirelessly working to help these children, the dream has become reality.

When Dr. Niraj Patel was ten-years-old and in the fourth grade, he and his parents moved to India for a year. During this time, Patel was impacted by small children begging for food on the streets. Many of them with very little clothing, the pain and desperation on their faces left a lasting impression. He made a promise to God to find a way to feed the orphans in India.

Fast forward to 2004, when Molly Philip, a nurse in Houston who also grew up in India, was struck by the sight of malnourished, homeless children in the southern state of Kerala and vowed to help them. She started the Good Shepherd Foundation, housing 12 orphans and providing food and shelter for them. Later that year, God intervened, and Philip met Patel during a chance meeting. She told her story, and he offered her his support. Together, they traveled back to Kerala (Kochin) and built a two-story building that is home to 60 children and offers education, healthcare, food and shelter. They continued to expand to two new locations in Gujaret, India. The Kerala Government recognized the facility in Kochin as a “Center of Excellence,” and they recommended this center be used in the development of future orphanages. The Dumda location has a tree called the “Tree Of  Hope” that would later become the logo for the Hope Endowment.

In 2009, with continued progress and support, Hope Endowment was officially established as a 501c3 charity. They were joined by a staff of passionate, devoted people, driven to continue the vision quest. The working board of Shilpa Patel, Dr. Nick Desai and his wife Dr. Nina Desai, Hemang Vyas and his wife Minal Vyas, Dr. Parin Shah, Dr. Atul Dhingra, Nitish Sethi and Dr. Nimish Kadakia spend countless hours utilizing their individual skills to continue the advancement of Hope Endowment. “If it wasn’t for the efforts of this team, this could never have advanced to the level it is at now,” said co-founder Patel. “This remarkable team has introduced Hope Endowment creating public awareness and are instrumental in the funding of our growth.”

The first fundraising event for Hope Endowment took place in December 2009, with many taking place since then. Every year, corporate donors generously contribute items for the fundraising gala that generates thousands of dollars for the continued expansion of facilities in India. Individual donors’ money goes directly to the care of the children by providing food, shelter, clothing, medical care and education.

To give a child a chance to live a normal life under unbearable circumstances is a gift from God. The care and devotion of the team of Hope Endowment have made a lifelong commitment to continue God’s work. These are the humanitarians who make a difference in this world. For more information, visit hopeendowment.org.