Power of One: Onetime orphan Roxana Robin helps parentless youth
MONTREAL- Roxana Robin can't remember much about her early life in an orphanage in Bangladesh, as she was adopted and moved to France at the age of two.
When she moved to Montreal at age 20, Robin still often wondered about the Indian subcontinent, while toiling unfulfilled as a banking professional.
But a dozen years ago she made a choice to ditch the world of commerce to help others facing the same fate she avoided.
She packed up and moved to India to work at an orphanage and in the process found the realities of abandoned youth highly jarring.
Any lingering misgivings she held about being raised away from the land of her birth were quickly eradicated.
"When I went to India for the first time, that was the first time that I felt lucky being adopted," she said.
The conditions of children in India made a deep impression on Robin.
"I was very angry to see what I saw. And I'm still very angry, when I see children who are exploited," said Roxana Robin of Children's Care International.
"When you see the eyes of the children," said Robin, "they are suffering," she said.
After her initial foray into philanthropy, Robin returned to Montreal to build up an operation and in 2003 her group founded the Arc-en-ciel House, which has since offered educational training to about 100 kids, many who have since gone on to university educations.
Three years later she was awarded the Montreal YMCA's Peace Medal, the first of multiple honours she has received for her battle against child exploitation.
Robin's group has more recently concentrated its resources to a training centre in Mumbia which helps women and girls freed from sex trafficking, it works in coordination with a sister centre in Bangkok, Thailand.
One of Robin's prioritize is to spread the word to Montreal-youth about her work,
A recent speech at John Rennie High School in Pointe Claire impressed many who listened.
"She's really someone we look up to, cause she's just changed us as people from her actions," said student Georgia Stavrakis.
"It gives me hope that people are out there like Roxana, who are trying to make a difference in these children's lives," said Jamie Shaghnessy, also a John Rennie student.