Synchronicity is a word defined as a series of events that occur in our lives and appear to be connected to each other, but have no discernible relationship. Synchronicity was the beginning of an ordinary conversation, paving a path to an extraordinary journey that spans a unique love affair across continents and lifetimes – connecting humanity from generation to generations.
A Home Away is the heart-warming story the begins with orphaned Polish children and women during World War II, who were thrown in slave labor camps in Siberia, later freed with nowhere to go, and find a home away in a country across continents, built on a land of compassion and belief in Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, meaning the world is one family. Working on this project has changed and redefined my life and work as a filmmaker.
The courage of one man – an Indian Maharaja Digvijaysinhji, who opened his home and heart to about 1,000 orphaned children in World War II – paved a path to protection for about 5,000 bereft Polish women and their children from 1942-48. It is a rare, often untold story of compassion and generosity in saving a future generation of Polish children.
“I remember India with a smile, as that is where my childhood really began,” says Wanda Kuras, a Polish survivor.
I met Kuras and other children from India of Polish descent, now aged and spread across the world, during a reunion of the Association of Poles in India where these “children of India” meet every two years to relive the beautiful memories of a colorful and warm country India.
It was a cry of providence. These were stories waiting to be told of once upon a time in India. I had to meet these storytellers, who now were perhaps in their last chapter of life, with fading emotive memories of their childhood home in India.
The stories germinated as seeds and took their creative wings on my writing table — a unique journey of meeting with these Polish children of India. I traveled to Poland and London, where few of them lived, and their stories of compassion and love that have helped heal the wounds caused by the brutalities of war slowly unfolded.
“I don’t feel like a guest here. I have come here a number of times because this is my second homeland,” said Wieslaw Stypula, a survivor in Maharaja’s camp.
“In Siberia, everything was rationed. We were given literally a few grams of bread, two bites, and there was no more bread. That feeling stayed afterwards when I came to India. I never finished the whole meal, and always hid a slice of bread, and just in case, when there was no more space in the pocket, I used to hide it under the pillow. This hunger complex remains with me until today,” spoke Zbigniew Bartosz, recounting his life and difficult times as a child.
“India and Valivade are very interesting, as they were my first awareness in life. There was no other camp like Valivade. I have to say that it was a fantastically organized Polish camp. For me, Valivade was a fairytale for such a boy, dreaming about freedom,” says Andrzej Chendynski, who came to live as a child in the larger Polish camp with his nanny and younger brother. He decided not to return to Poland. (http://www.solopreneur.in/littlepoland/interviews)
These stories of tolerance gave birth to two documentary films: A Little Poland in India and Jindobrey India (http://www.solopreneur.in/littlepoland/films), which have been shared and seen across various platforms.
STORY OF LOVE & FREEDOM
The story I am currently working on is one of love that blossomed in Valivade between a young Polish girl and a Maharashtrian Brahmin boy, where language and caste were differences that created a bridge, instead of barriers. A medley of emotions unites two young hearts in silent communion, with lifetime commitment, for the struggle for freedom – for themselves and their countries. This Polish girl left her home, country and family to find love and freedom in India.
My hope is this story of love leads by example on the international stage, reaching homes and hearts, and creating a dialogue between countries suffering from war and hate crimes. It has been curated into a feature film and a global commercial project with eminent Indian filmmaker Shyam Benegal and author Shama Zaidi.
A CALL TO THE INDIAN DIASPORA
Let us join hands and hearts in sharing this story of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam with the world.
Anu Radha is an Indian film producer and a communications specialist who has made documentary films that have been screened globally. She believes in films that reflect compassionate humanitarian issues, connecting each soul of One World without borders.
Her globally acclaimed film, A Little Poland in India and Jindobrey India, showcase a unique gesture of India becoming a home to thousands of Polish children and women during WW2. “A Little Poland in India,” has been shared and showcased on various platforms, starting a conversation on the subject and belief of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the world is one family). She has been honored with the Bene Merito award by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Poland.
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