Broadcom Community Heroes: Debajani Majhi Fosters Children in India with Sayaha International

Editor’s Note: Broadcom Community Heroes  recognizes civic engagement and volunteerism by Broadcom employees around the globe, who may nominate themselves or their colleagues for recognition under guidelines set forth by Broadcom Foundation. The Community Engagement Committee honors these employees with a $500 gift in their honor from a list of qualifying charities. In this series on the blog, we’ll profile each Community Hero to share stories about their interests and work benefiting their communities around the world.

Sahaya International is a non-profit organization that is committed to making a difference by improving the quality of life in India. Through Sahaya International’s sponsorship program, Debajani “DJ” Majhi, a senior engineer in IC design at Broadcom’s San Bernardo office, is the proud mother of seven foster children between the ages of 4- and 17-years old. DJ’s determination to stay involved in her foster children’s lives by providing basic needs such as food, clothing and medication along with funding their educations is why she has been chosen as our Broadcom Hero.DJ with daughter

What inspired you to get involved?

I grew up in an affluent family in India but my parents deliberately placed me in public school to be able to experience the economic diversity in my country and better understand how fortunate I was. Even as a young girl, I was overwhelmed by the poverty that surrounded me and knew how difficult it must be to study when one is distracted by hunger pains. Even now as I am talking to you, I haven’t had my lunch yet and find myself unable to focus on anything else. This experience made me realize that the only difference between us was the means to be successful.  This was my inspiration and led me to provide support for my foster children.

What surprised you most about your work within the group?

In India, cultural taboos hinder efforts to effectively treat the HIV epidemic. I was surprised to learn that the founder, an American professor at the University of California, Davis, willingly went to India to conduct research on HIV to find a way to distribute inexpensive and widely available drugs. This opened up dialog about HIV, and there are now programs within Sahaya International to eliminate the shame associated with being HIV-positive.

What do you most look forward to when working with the group?

I most look forward to seeing the academic progress and the opportunities that will come to my foster children because they have been well-educated. The biggest achievement for the group is when young kids are able to grow out of poverty, become independent and find social acceptance.

Share with us a favorite story about your work. What made the experience so rewarding?

When I started volunteering with the program and chose Synthia as my first foster child, I went to India to visit her. As soon as she saw me, she started to cry and hugged me tight. I asked her if something was wrong. She said, “My parents committed suicide and abandoned me. You chose to adopt me. You are greater than them and God.” Synthia is now in 9th grade. Looking back, the experience of when I first met her in India compared to the young woman she is today is an incredibly rewarding experience.

What advice would you give to Broadcom employees who want to become volunteers?

My advice to Broadcom employees is to go out and volunteer! Whether it is a small donation each month or more of an emotional investment like mine, helping others is rewarding.  American dollars can go a long way in developing countries.  Although your contribution may not make a difference in your day to day life, it will make a HUGE difference in theirs.