Dr. Kazuko: Planning Nine Orphanages Globally Through Gaia

Tawang, India. Sitting on the veranda of the Manjushree Orphanage high in the Himalayan Mountains, with 200 plus Tibetan children playing happily during their recess below, Dr. Kazuko Hillyer Tatsumura and I had an important téte-a-téte.

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As we put our heads together to discuss our past accomplishments and present goals, we also focused on the future. I am perhaps halfway through my philanthropic journey and Dr. Kazuko may one day, sadly, retire. We began to discuss ways in which her important Gaia Holistic Foundation (www.gaiaholistic.com) and Orphans International Worldwide could one day merge, creating hypothetically “Gaia Orphans International.”

Dr. Kazuko has been involved with children’s’ charities far longer than I and is far wiser. Her vision is to support nine orphanages around the world, in every corner, representing multiple languages and faiths – all united by the guiding principal of Kindness and Compassion.

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Dr. Kazuko’s life work has been inspired by His Holiness the
Dalai Lama. Here, in Dharamshala. Photo: Stewardship Report.

We discussed how destiny has played such a role in both of our lives. As we sat over looking the tremendous academic building she spearheaded construction of over the last decade, we acknowledged the myriad forces as play in our lives and how our paths have intersected so seamlessly.

This Japanese aristocrat, doctor, philanthropist, and international development specialist is determined to create and support nine homes for orphaned and disadvantaged children, the first being here at Manjushree. She met His Holiness the Dalai Lama almost half a century ago and is firmly committed to raising these young Tibetans to become global leaders, as she has promised him.

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Neighborhood children outside Orphans International
Haiti, near Jacmel, 2006. Photo: Stewardship Report.

In addition, she and I have travelled together to Cuba, Haiti, Indonesia (both Bali & Sulawesi), and separately to Japan, Mexico, Thailand and Turkey, as well as various nations in Africa. Her vision is to have nine projects – loving homes – where children are raised with both kindness and compassion.

Haiti, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, as well as the Lakota Nation in North America, and possibly a country such as Kenya suggest themselves. Such a range of nations would encompass English, French, Indonesian, Japanese, Lakota, Sinhala, Spanish, Swahili, Tibetan, and Turkish – and cover faith traditions from Buddhism and Christianity to Islam, Native American, Shinto and Vodou.

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What we have to offer is experience, endowment funds, the ability to spotlight world attention on specific projects, move volunteers around the world (including architects, doctors, nurses, and educators) – and create the “Compassionate Orphanage Standard,” a certification of orphan care that donors can trust and rely upon and local administrators can have as a global guide to help children in their care.

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Orphans International Worldwide (www.orphansinternational.org) was created twenty years ago, inspired by my son, pushed forward by my mother, and committed to “Mathew’s Rule” – that we care for children around the world as well as we would care for our own. Orphans International, which has run projects in Bali, Sulawesi and Sumatera in Indonesia, as well as the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Tanzania, is focused on Raising Young Global Leaders.

In addition, we have the J. Luce Foundation (www.lucefoundation) committed to Supporting Young Global Leaders. The foundation has trained a cadre of international students based in New York City, named Fellows and Scholars around the world, and have rolled out the Luce 24 Under 24 program based on Forbes 30 Under 30. Our latest venture is to create Young Global Leadership Centers where horizons can be expanded on academic and orphanage campuses around the world.

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Finally, we have The Stewardship Report on Connecting Goodness (www.stewardshipreport.com) where we can spotlight institutions and programs globally, lead our Leadership Experience to nations and cultures around the world, and run the New York Global Leaders Lions Club connecting us to Lions Club International with 1.4 million members in 46,000 local clubs in over 180 countries worldwide.

On Thursday, February 27, 2020 we will host the Twentieth Anniversary of Orphans International, the Tenth Anniversary of the J. Luce Foundation, and the Fifth Anniversary of our NYC Lions Club. What a grand time to announce the partnership of the Gaia Holistic Foundation and Orphans International Worldwide.

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In fact, it occurs to me that we should ask Dr. Kazuko to accept our Lifetime Achievement Award even though she still has decades ahead of her. A tribute film of her life and work would be incredible. Not to mention announcing the “Nine Nations of Gaia Orphans International.”

That night, our Twentieth Anniversary, we will further announce a five-year plan to create twenty endowment funds. Dr. Kazuko has pledged two: The Manjushree Fund and the Indonesian Orphans & Education Fund. In addition, we have The Bauer Fund and The Davenport Fund, both committed to preventing youth suicide. Finally, we have scholarships and partnerships around the world including Marietta College and The College of Wooster, both in Ohio, as well as the Caribbean Maritime University of Jamaica.

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Twenty years ago, Orphans International named many Global Heroes for our children to learn about, admire and emulate. These included His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Rev. Martin Luther King, Thich Nat Than, Simon Peres, and Eli Wiesel.

I myself have been fortunate to have been mentored by some incredible leaders such as past president of Guyana Cheddi Jagan, Episcopal Bishop of New York Paul Moore, Rev. Bill Coffin, Betty Millard, Atty. Bill Kunstler, and of course, Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul & Mary. But perhaps the woman I have learned most from is my dear friend, Dr. Kazuko Hillyer Tatsumura, and her adherence to His Holiness’s sacred words: “Others Before Self.”

About Jim Luce: Thought Leaders & Global Citizens

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Jim Luce: Thought Leaders & Global Citizens
Jim Luce (www.lucefoundation.org) writes and speaks on Thought Leaders and Global Citizens. Bringing 26 years management experience within both investment banking and the non-profit sector, Jim has worked for Daiwa Bank, Merrill Lynch, a spin-off of Lazard Freres, and two not-for profit organizations and a foundation he founded. As Founder & CEO of Orphans International Worldwide (www.oiww.org), he is working with a strong network of committed professionals to build interfaith, interracial, Internet-connected orphanages in Haiti and Indonesia, and creating a new, family-care model for orphans in Sri Lanka and Tanzania.

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