Zubyn D’Costa is a Freshman at Wellesley College potentially majoring in Political Science. When Zubyn was in 6th grade, friends of the family, Michael Shafer and Evelind Schecter, traveled to Thailand and were struck by the sight of so many young girls whose poverty and circumstance left them with no other option than to go into sex trafficking. For many of these young girls their situation was the product of a vicious cycle of prostitution as young girls are often born to mothers who themselves are prostitutes and so are unable to support a child. Shafer and Schecter believed that education was the key to breaking this cycle, so they started an NGO called Warm Heart and poured their life savings into it to see if they could make a difference. They now live full time in Thailand at the headquarters of Warm Heart where they have homes for the children whom they send to school each morning, provide food, clothes, and educate outside of school. Their once small project has grown to be more than just focused on education as they have branched out into other projects that include providing healthcare to elderly and disabled in the surrounding hill tribes, and many projects focused on environmentalism and sustainability.
Zubyn was only in middle school at the time of the NGO’s creation, but that didn’t stop her from joining in efforts to help. She organized fundraisers with her Interact Club where they gathered donations of kids books, movies, school supplies, stuffed animals, and old clothes that they would send to Thailand. Zubyn continued her efforts throughout middle school and the start of high school, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2014 that Zubyn was able to truly see the impact she made first hand when she was given the opportunity to go and volunteer directly in Thailand for an entire summer. This experience really changed her relationship to the cause because as she explained, it was no longer just sending boxes of old clothes to nameless children; a fact that became obvious the moment she arrived as many of the children running to to meet Zubyn wore clothes she herself had grown up in. At only 15, Zubyn was by far the youngest on the team as most of the other volunteers were college students getting college credits through Warm Heart’s volunteer program. However, Zubyn said her age didn’t stop her becoming an important part of the team as they taught English to the younger children at Warm Heart and ventured out into the surrounding villages to try to help the elderly and disabled residents get access to healthcare during the midst of a military coup that was happening at the time.
Although Zubyn has not been back to Thailand since that summer, but when asked if she was planning on continuing her work with Warm Heart (or with NGOs in general) she responded “Hopefully. I really enjoy the work. I think it’s work that you can see your effect just instantly, you can see the effect you have on people, and i think it’s work that is really worth doing because people need help, and just making the effort counts for something, and I think that’s very significant.”