On Tuesday, November 13, Worldwide Orphans held its eighth annual gala at Cipriani Wall Street to celebrate its 15th anniversary. We honored Elie Tahari, Howard Lutnick, Rula Jebreal and Seal because they were orphaned as youngsters and overcame adversity and suffering to become successful adults. More than 660 guests attended that night, helping us raise over $1.7 million.
We showed a film documenting each honoree's thoughts and feelings about being an orphan. Each honoree revealed how their losses and pain propelled them to independence and creativity in their lives and work. They demonstrate the strength and resilience inherent in every orphan.
I have a 14-year old son, Des, who was born in Ethiopia, where he lived until the age of six. After his family died one by one, he ended up in an orphanage for a year and then our family adopted him. He is a successful young man who achieves in school, was a bar mitzvah in May 2011 and has many friends. His outlook on life is remarkable.
My younger son, Benjamin, is approaching his 13th birthday in April 2013, when he will be a bar mitzvah. He was born in Vietnam and we adopted him at 4-and-a-half months of age from an orphanage in Hanoi. He is a sweet, tender, and curious young man who has an uncanny and magical touch with animals. His pet Rico, the cockatiel, is a warm and loving member of our family because Ben handles him and adores him.
Both boys have traveled to their respective homelands a couple of times and they love Worldwide Orphans. They come to the Gala every year to enjoy pigs in a blanket, chicken fingers, friends and the celebration of children in need. They understand the work and have both served as volunteers with orphans in Haiti and Ethiopia.
I asked my older son the other day what he thought of the Gala honorees. He liked them all, and particularly loved the film where they spoke about their lives as orphans. He then said the following: "Mama, orphans are untouchable."
I asked, "What do you mean, Des?"
He replied, "When you are in orphan, that is the worst thing that can happen to you and then you can never be touched again by anything."
Nothing more to say...
Dr. Jane Aronson
CEO, Worldwide Orphans