Posted by: ginalazenby | February 23, 2009

Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire movie spreads hope

Moghiya boys at school funded by a Tiger Watch initiative in Rajasthan, India

Moghiya boys at school funded by a Tiger Watch initiative in Rajasthan, India

I am just watching the Oscar ceremony in LA and witnessing the well-deserved  success of the brilliant movie Slumdog Millionaire. Listening to one of the acceptance speeches refer to the film being about the power of hope and optimism, I recalled my own foray into the underworld of India.

I have been to Mumbai a few times but last year I toured northern India with a group from all over the world, who went to witness how our donations were being utilised by the Hunger Project.  We saw terrible poverty as we travelled but also came across amazing initiatives that totally inspired us. For most of us, our lives have not been the same since.

On the holiday part of our trip we’d gone to see the tigers in Ranthambore National Park but sadly there are now too few to spot. Then we heard about Tiger Watch and met the founder, Mr Fateh Singh Rathore, who shared his other project.  As an innovative way to stop tiger poaching he created a residential school for young boys (see their lovely faces in this photo). These are the children of tiger poachers caught in a spiral of killing that just about gives them a living to survive. By taking their children into a hostel and giving them an education, the project breaks the cycle of poverty and destruction creating a new generation with new hope and possibilities. And conservation of the tigers is achieved in this innovative way.

If you are interested to find out more about other projects that help the poorest children in India then check out my friend Maya Shahani’s wonderful work through the SAGE Foundation which she created. I got an email from her recently about her work:  “Slumdog Millionaire has captured the lives of children living in slums so hauntingly. SAGE Foundation has adopted slums in Mumbai.  We are working towards improving their lives so that no one remains a slumdog by 2020.  B1G1 has set up a virtual village on their site and with the help of supporters, SAGE will build up a real village near Mumbai which will be a template for other villages. As you already know, the Clinton Global Initiative team is also fully behind this project. Together we can transform the world, one slum at a time and one village at a time. ”

This brilliant Slumdog movie is going to be a phenomenon in inspiring giving and action across the world. You can’t leave the movie theatre without wanting to to do something!  And Hollywood is recognising and supporting that wave. Bravo.



  1. Dear Gina,
    Slumdog Millionaire highlights the miserable conditions of the slum dwellers in Mumbai, but it is also a saga of hope and celebrates victory with the award winning song “Jai Ho”

    It is this hope that SAGE Foundation wishes to kindle in every heart. Lets all work together for a better world so that we can all sing in unison “Jai Ho”

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