"We saw a little boy who came up to our cab when we were driving, and he knocked on the window," she said. "We gave him food and he ran behind the car, looked in the food, and then he smiled and waved at us. I started looking around more and I realized there's a lot of kids like him, and I want to help them."
The well and orphanage are located in Velishala Village outside of Hyderabad. Autumn worked with the charitable organization Angel House to identify where the orphanage should be located. For eight months, Autumn raised money in her community by babysitting, pet-sitting, watering plants, selling cookies, and collecting donations.
This experience helped build Autumn's confidence. "I am definitely not as shy now, she said. "At the beginning, we would make all the cookies and then we'd go to sell and I'd make my mom talk to all the customers. Eventually, I realized that they wanted to talk to me because I was doing the project, not my mom, and so I finally had to build up the courage to talk to the people."
In early December, Autumn and her family attended the grand opening of the orphanage. Twelve boys ages 8 to 15 will live in the two-story building until they can find jobs, and the freshwater well will provide water for the village.
Autumn is unsure of what she might work on next, but she's considering building "a second layer onto my existing orphanage" or collaborating with Angel House to build a different orphanage.
"This experience has shown me how lucky we are to be here and that we need to help other people who aren't as fortunate," she said.
Woodside resident Carmen Bechtel is an eighth-grader at Corte Madera School who enjoys writing and painting.
This story contains 360 words.
Stories older than 90 days are available only to subscribing members. Please help sustain quality local journalism by becoming a subscribing member today.
If you are already a subscriber, please log in so you can continue to enjoy unlimited access to stories and archives. Subscriptions start at $5 per month and may be cancelled at any time.