"Using My Talents to Give Back to the World"


It’s pitch black on stage except for the spotlight on fourteen-year-old Rachna Deshpande in her colorful Indian sari. As the music begins, she captivates her audience with an ancient Indian dance form known as Bharatanatyam. This is her debut performance. But even though this is one of the most significant moments in Rachna’s life, she wants to share the spotlight with children in Haiti.


Rachna has been practicing the art of Bharatanatyam since she was six years old
                           Rachna has been practicing the art of Bharatanatyam since she was six years old.
“I really wanted to give back,” says Rachna. “I have been fortunate enough to live a lifestyle in which basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, and education are never a problem.” In lieu of the gifts that are customary at a coming-of-age dance like this, she asked her guests to bring open hearts and support Children of the Nations’ ministry in Haiti
During intermission, Rachna described the desperate need of the children in Haiti and asked her guests to help COTN build a school and feeding center there. “Our hearts were filled by joy, pride, and love,” says her father, Rajendra. “She communicated compellingly.” Inspired by Rachna’s passion, guests donated more than $23,000, which, when combined with the gifts people like you gave at the beginning of this year, fully funded the project!  
Thanks to Rachna’s guests and partners like you, COTN will soon have a schoolThanks to the gifts of Rachna’s guests and partners like you, COTN will soon be able to build a feeding center and school for the children in Haiti.
“COTN is making our dream of helping the next generation of leaders in countries like Malawi, Haiti, and Sierra Leone a reality,” says Rajendra. The Deshpandes first learned about COTN through a Share the Vision event in 2011, where Fraser Ratzlaff, COTN’s Seattle Area Community Representative, shared his story of involvement with the organization. “[We] decided to support their effort in every way possible,” says Rajendra. 
It quickly became a family effort. Last year their oldest daughter, Rima, dedicated her performance to help build a girls’ dormitory for COTN’s International Christian Academy in Malawi.
“People can have more influence than they think,” says Fraser. “One day some Haitian fourteen-year-old girl will have been educated at this school and will read this article and it will inspire her to keep going.”
“They recognize that there is a need in the world,” says Fraser.
“[The Deshpande family] recognizes that there is a need in the world,” says Fraser (left), “and they’re teaching their children to respond to that need and showing them how to leverage their skills, talents, and connections to help people.”
Rachna says she’d like to visit the children in Haiti someday and see for herself how their lives are being changed. “This experience of raising money for a cause through my dance has most definitely made me think about my future,” she says. “I would love to keep dancing and raising money for different causes and using my talents to give back to the world.” 
“I truly hope the money raised will provide a better life for the children
     “I truly hope the money raised in this event will provide a better life for the children in Haiti,” says Rachna.


Update: On May 31, 2016, Rachna gave a TEDx Talk reflecting on her time in Haiti and her experiences serving COTN's children. You can view her talk below.

Join Rachna and her family as they work to change children’s lives in Haiti!