Sunday, March 30, 2008

Riding the Tiger: The Creation of OI Worldwide

Taken from the e-book, Riding the Tiger: The Creation of Orphans International, the materials on this blog follow not only the history of Orphans International (OI) from the eyes of Jim Luce, the founder, but more importantly "the history of the relationships that support orphaned children around the world, helping them grow up to be Global Citizens."

Unique in its mission, OI aspires to support orphaned and abandoned children grow into solid citizens through a sound institutional structure that is interfaith, interracial, international, intergenerational, and internet-connected. Recognized as not just an “orphanage” but instead as a “world peace project,” the organization’s primary objective is to teach tolerance and the essence of global citizenship. OI strives to accomplish this goal by adhering to the vision of small family homes made up of four to six children, raised under the guidance and support of one or two houseparents representing a family unit until they are adults. The hope is to raise children who understand differences from childhood, who strive to become future leaders of their countries and who will bring about global change, peace and justice to our world.

While these goals started as only a vision, this personal narrative by Jim Luce offers us an opportunity to witness the birth of OI and follow in its evolution over the past decade. He invites us into his intimate world of family, friends, colleagues and the close community that has built OI off the ground and helped it grow over the years.

We follow Jim's visions from the beginning in 1996 in a dilapidated orphanage in Indonesia where he adopts his son Matthew -- to building his dream of a network of international orphanages to give care to all the children around the world. Often operating in troubled, post-disaster regions, OI began its first community in Sulawesi and is now at various stages of development in project nations, including the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guyana, Ghana, Haiti, Indonesia, Peru, the Philippines, Romania, Sri Lanka, and Togo. We embrace the story of the opening of the first orphanage in Sumatra only six weeks after the Tsunami of 2004. Through the intimate details of each project, we witness and welcome the fears, frustrations, challenges and celebrations that came with the birth of each new OI community.

What makes this story so different and unique from any other written about a young international organization just beginning to blossom is not the facts, statistics and reports of the organization’s evolution. While that is all there, it is instead the personal narratives, letters and words from the orphans and their houseparents, vivid images that capture precious moments of OI’s history and recognition for the families who have shaped OI's story that provide the true essence behind OI's mission and meaning.

As readers are immersed into OI’s world, they also become emotionally invested into OI’s mission and may wonder about their own role and responsibility in the future of OI. As Jim puts it best, “The future of Orphans International …is our funders, our staff, our volunteers. Most importantly, it is our children…I believe that one day our children (orphans) – Esther in Sulawesi, Love in Haiti, Bahrizal in Sumatera – will run Orphans International. Our future is in their hands. We will have succeeded. We will have raised global citizens, hundreds of them, and the impact we have made on this troubled world is immeasurable. The following is the history of an organization, but more importantly it is the history of the relationships that support orphaned children around the world, helping them grow up to be Global Citizens. The children are our sole focus; however, it takes structure to nurture them, just as the structures and relationships of our own families nurtured us. - Sabrina Huda

I have attempted to portray the history of these structures and relationships over the last ten years,and wherever there are omissions or inaccuracies I take full responsibility. I apologize that due to a heavy fundraising schedule I had but one month to write this book, August 2006, and because of this haste I am there no doubt are many omissions and errors. However, I have written what I know and what I feel. Regardless of errors, you are seeing a pure picture of what OI is to me, and what it has been for the children in our care. Most of all, this is the story of our supporters, for they are responsible for Orphans International being here. They are responsible for the impossible being made possible. - Jim Luce

This book is dedicated with love to both the dead and the living: my mother, Frances D. Alleman-Luce, without whom there would be no Orphans International, and my brother Richard Livingston Luce, who encouraged me to move forward. Thank you also to Carol Hoskins, Ph.D., and Ethel Grodzins Romm, who put many hours into editing this book.

Riding the Tiger: The Creation of Orphans International Worldwide by Jim Luce is published by ORPHANS INTERNATIONAL WORLDWIDE, Executive Office, 540 Main Street #418, New York, N.Y. 10044 USA. Copyright 2006 Jim Luce. No parts of the book may be reproduced in whole or in part without the specific consent of ORPHANS INTERNATIONAL WORLDWIDE, unless used for academic purposes. All rights reserved. ISSN 1234-5678-910.

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