Minus Aung San Suu Kyi, Orphans Still Raised with Global Heroes

New York, N.Y. Ten years ago, The Huffington Post reported that Orphans International Worldwide (link) had instituted role models for its children around the world, specifically a group of 36 “heroes” including Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi, American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. – and once-human rights champion of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, now connected to genocide there.

Suu-kyi-khawmu-constituencyOrphans International removes Aung San Suu Kyi as a ‘global hero role model’
for orphans after the U.N. accused her of not stemming genocide in Myanmar.
Photo: Wikipedia.

No one anticipated a hero could become complicit with evil. According to the charity’s founder Jim Luce, “My mother, a child psychologist, had challenged me to think about what would make Orphans International unique in the bleak world of orphanages. I told her I planned to have memorials to twentieth century leaders on our campuses. It never dawned on me we would have to cancel one…”

Orphans International Worldwide is dedicated to ‘raising global leaders.’ Its children were given strong role models – their own heroes – to aspire to.

Key philosophies at the heart of selecting these heroes included emphasis on global citizenry, leadership, independence, an interfaith message, transparency, advocating human rights and the arts, positive, tolerant, and countering intolerance. Many of the noblest thoughts of the last century were thought by Nobel Prize recipients from around the world.

“There is value and importance in remembering the good who have walked among us, as well as remembering the evil that is possible when good people stand by. Our children are introduced to these 36 heroes who have shaped our lives, our hearts, and our world,” Jim stated in 1998.

Orphans International Worldwide pledged to pay special attention to the words of these leaders through curriculum, library holdings, and inspirational memorials.

These leaders included former U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, Albert Schweitzer, Mother Teresa, Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Yitzhak Rabin, Pearl S. Buck, Menachem Begin, Heinrich Böll, Willy Brandt, Albert Camus, Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, T.S. Eliot, Gabriel García Márquez, Dag Hammarskjöld, Ernest Hemingway, Herman Hesse, Yasunari Kawabata, Rudyard Kipling, Le Duc Tho, Sinclair Lewis, Clare Boothe Luce, Thomas Mann, Eugene O’Neil, Anwar Sadat, Jean-Paul Sartre, Eisaku Sato, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Isaac Bashevis, John Steinbeck, Rabindranath Tagore, and Elie Wiesel.

By coincidence, today is National Heroes Day in the Philippines, a national public holiday held on the last Monday of every August to mark the anniversary of the Cry of Pugad Lawin, the beginning of the Philippine Revolution by the Katipunan and its Supremo Andrés Bonifacio in 1896.

Orphans International’s goal is to provide quality shelter and education to possible future Nobel Prize recipients. As Jim said, “Without saints, secular or divine, sanctity can too easily be viewed as mere abstraction. The sincerity of Anne Frank, the courage of Mahatma Gandhi, and the blood of Oscar Romero make sainthood a reality for us all.”

Each year, Orphans International Worldwide celebrates these heroes, including co-hosting a birthday celebration for His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New York City (story).

“Sadly,” Jim Luce says today, “we have had to eliminate Aung San Suu Kyi as a global role model for our children due to her cooperation with genocide against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, as cited by the United Nations.”

According to CNN, an independent U.N. investigation into alleged human rights abuses carried out against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar has called for the country’s military leaders to be investigated and prosecuted for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The damning report contains allegations of murder, imprisonment and sexual violence against the Rohingyas, carried out by the Myanmar military under the guise of a crackdown on terrorists, and against a backdrop of impunity that effectively placed military leaders above the law.

U.N. investigators found that the Myanmar’s civilian government had “contributed to the commission of atrocity crimes” through their “acts and omissions.”

“The State Counselor, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has not used her de facto position as Head of Government, nor her moral authority, to stem or prevent the unfolding events in Rakhine State,” the report states.

The highest award of the J. Luce Foundation, sister charity to Orphans International Worldwide, is its Clare Boothe Luce Award for International Service named in honor of the Renaissance woman who served both in the U.S. House of Representatives and as the first female American Ambassador, as well as having been a versatile author and editor.

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The Editors
The Stewardship Report on Connecting Goodness is the communications platform of The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation (www.lucefoundation.org). There are now more than 100 contributors around the world to this publication.

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