NEW YORK –Indian-American couple Purvi Padia, an interior designer, and Harsh Padia, a hedge-fund manager, in conjunction with UNICEF USA, hosted the launch of Project Lion at The High Line Hotel May 30, kicking off a new project to support children in residential institutions across India. The event raised more than $850,000 for UNICEF’s work to put children first, according to a press release from UNICEF USA.
Emceed by Museum of Ice Cream Co-Founder Manish Vora, the program included remarks from UNICEF Next Generation founding member Jenna Bush Hager, the daughter of former U.S. President George W. Bush; actress Sienna Miller; CEO and President of UNICEF USA Caryl Stern, as well as performances by Arya Dance Academy. The host committee included Miller along with Sonia Kapadia, Samir Patel and Emily Stackman.
Inspired by the true story of Saroo Brierley captured in the film Lion, Project Lion started with a generous seed grant from Purvi and Harsh Padia to UNICEF. The amount given by the Padias was not disclosed in the press release.
“Project Lion is created to serve the orphaned or displaced children of India. Right now, there is 1.5 million displaced children in India and the first phase of Project Lion which will be three years long will serve the first 200 thousand of them,” Purvi Padia is quoted saying in the press release. “But in addition to that it will really put programs in place so going forward children who find themselves in situations without families have proper rules, proper procedures so they can really thrive,” Purvi Padia added.
Project Lion is a UNICEF child protection program that aims to support more than 200,000 children without family care living in residential institutions across eight states of India.
By enforcing standards of care, strengthening the child protection workforce, providing services for vulnerable families and modelling new alternatives, this program expects to ensure that children who have been left without family care can be given a second chance to grow in loving, stable, nurturing and protective environments, a press release from .
Among the various UN agencies, UNICEF is considered the most effective in saving children’s lives around the world.
“UNICEF is the leading organization that saves kids’ lives around the world. Anybody who loves kids should support UNICEF,” Hager said.
Stern said Project Lion grew out of the film Lion which tells the real life story of a little boy who inadvertently gets separated from his family, ends up on the streets, then adopted by an Australian family, and later in life goes in search of his birth mother and finds her.
“Harsh and Purvi really looked at this and said, there’s got to be some organized way where we can help children who are not guaranteed that family life, who don’t have that safety and that security of parents surrounding them, and so they gave birth to this phenomenal project called Lion,” Stern is quoted saying in the press release.