In Bihar, Americans Build a School for Orphaned Children

Orphans International Worldwide (OIW) starts a project for orphaned children on the Indian border with China. The project includes a new orphanage and school in Bihar, a city with the highest proportion of children, 46%, of any state in India.

by David Stone

for Assorted Ideas, Large & Small/Special to The Roosevelt Island Daily News

Orphaned children being measured for uniforms.
Students are measured for uniforms under a Saraswati tree. Saraswati is the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, art, speech, wisdom, and learning.

About Bihar

Bihar is a state in East India, bordering Nepal. It is the third-largest state by population and the twelfth largest by area. Bihar has a long history and rich cultural heritage. The state can be divided into two distinct regions: the Gangetic Plains in the north and the Chota Nagpur Plateau in the south.

The Gangetic plains are fertile and support a large population. The region is also home to several important Hindu pilgrimage sites, including the birthplace of the god Rama in Ayodhya and the city of Varanasi, known as the “city of temples.”

Bihar has the highest proportion of children, 46%, of any state in India.

Orphans International Free School at Saraswati

With funding from the J. Luce Foundation.

“Our project at Saraswati is on the far outskirts of Bodhgaya, a city with a population of 48,000, OIW founder Jim Luce says. “The village across the river from Saraswati has 3,600 villagers. Including two adjacent villages, there are about 8,500 people near our project. Approximately 4,000 children live near our project.”

Two decades ago, Luce, who lives on Roosevelt Island in New York City, quit a high-paying job in the financial sector, using his own resources in launching the now international nonprofit.

“I am an advocate for global orphans. I believe all children have a right to a family, and no child should be denied that right,” Luce says.

Orphaned children often face many challenges in life. They may struggle with emotional issues, and they may have difficulty succeeding in school. Orphans also often have a hard time finding jobs as adults.

“I just approved these toilets for the project. 🙂 I was inspired by our Southpoint Park”/ on Roosevelt Island, Luce wrote in an email.

“I will have a conversation with the provincial government to deed us land to coordinate volunteers from around the world to build them more sustainable housing. My dad was very involved with Habitat for Humanity and there is a fund in his name.”

A Commitment to Orphaned Children

Earlier this month, a Tibetan film crew came to Roosevelt Island to interview Luce in his Roosevelt Landings home.

“We support the Tibetan orphanage in India on the Chinese border, and they are excited that we are building a new orphanage for Untouchable children,” Luce said.

Orphans International Worldwide provides orphans with basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, and education. The organization also works to provide orphans with medical care and psychological support. In addition, Orphans International Worldwide advocates for the rights of orphans and works to raise awareness about the plight of orphans around the world.

Luce started OIW after adopting his son, Mathew, from an impoverished orphanage in Indonesia twenty years ago. The place was so poor that he was asked to leave Mathews’s torn T-shirt behind so that another child could use it.


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