“The tests we face in life’s journey are not to reveal our weaknesses but to help us discover our inner strengths. We can only know how strong we are when we strive and thrive beyond the challenges we face.”
― Kemi Sogunle

Love was growing impatient in our hearts, longing to be showered onto a child we could call our own. After 7 years of our marriage, our period of waiting had finally come to an end. On the 7th of November, 2004, our unceasing prayers were finally answered through the birth of our son, Shaun Noel. It was a momentous occasion that filled our hearts with boundless love and anticipation. This baby in our arms was one we could call our own.

Little did we know that our jubilation would soon have to be put on hold, as our journey would take us down a path marked by unimaginable challenges and unexpected twists. Just as we were basking in the joy of new parenthood, we received the heartbreaking news— our little baby boy was born with multiple congenital heart defects, including a missing left ventricle.

Thus began our odyssey of adversaries, testing, resilience, and faith. Shaun’s early years were marked by a series of surgeries, including 3 Open Heart Surgeries— each a testament to his remarkable strength and the resilience of the human spirit. From his first open heart surgery at the tender age of two months to subsequent procedures, Shaun faced each challenge with unwavering determination and an indomitable spirit.

During the many hospital visits we made with Shaun, and the hours, days and weeks we spent, pushing through the exhaustion as our son fought for his life, we saw many others like us, standing for hours even when their legs threatened to give out.

Shaun was not the only baby undergoing complex surgeries due to his heart defects. In fact, according to World Health Organization, Congenital Heart Defects are the most common birth defects in the world. We realised that there are many poor families in India who are not even fortunate enough to afford seeking treatment for their baby’s CHD. They lack the resources as well as the information to know what can be done. The feeling of powerlessness as a parent makes this already challenging situation much harder for them.

This is why Noel Foundation provides emotional support along with financial support for families of pediatric heart patients. We have been called to counsel countless families as a result of our experiences with our own son, Shaun. Since its inception in 2013, Noel Foundation has emotionally and financially supported over 1090 children with CHD. We also strive to break the cycle of poverty by supporting the education of first generation learners, and we have supported over 600 first generation learners in the last 10 years.

Our son Shaun is now 19 years old, and is pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in Chennai. Our daughter Sheryl has also been a huge source of emotional support through the maturity she has operated with since a very young age. Shaun and Sheryl also help out with the Foundation in their own creative ways, and we couldn’t be more proud of our journey with them, as parents.

Today, as we reflect on our journey, we are humbled and grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others. Through Noel Foundation, we have witnessed the transformative power of love and compassion to build hope for a bright future to those from underserved communities. Thanks to the tremendous support we have received from our donors and well-wishers, we remain steadfast in our commitment to our life-saving and life-enhancing mission. Together, let us continue to write stories of courage, compassion, and resilience—making a difference, one heart at a time.
Join us in spreading awareness this Congenital Heart Defects Awareness Day. Together, let us make every heartbeat count.

Sudheer & Hilda
Founders, Noel Foundation