Kelowna to silver screen

An orphanage in India supported by a Kelowna charity is getting a huge boost in awareness, thanks to a major motion picture that is gaining critical acclaim.

Kelowna city councillor Mohini Singh, a director of the East Meets West charitable foundation, said she didn't even know the high-profile movie Lion was about a child from its orphanage until friends watched the film and told her about it.

The film stars actor Dev Patel and tells the story of Saroo, an Indian boy who became separated from his parents after falling asleep on a train. The train takes the five-year-old across the country, and eventually he winds up in an orphanage and is adopted by an Australian family.

The story centres on his efforts, once he has grown, to find his mother. It also stars Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara and David Wenham.

Singh says she has yet to see the film, but hopes to arrange for its central character, Saroo Brierley, to come to Kelowna and speak about his adventure.

"Maybe we can screen the film as a fundraiser, too," she said.

The film is based on Brierley's memoir, A Long Way Home.

Singh said "Mrs. Sue" in the film is the same woman through whom she adopted her own daughter.

She hopes to contact Brierley soon to try and arrange a trip to Canada.

East Meets West supports the Navajeevan and Navadiganta orphanage in Kolkata, along with a creche or daycare in a nearby village. The charity has also paid for life-saving medical procedures on close to 300 children.

"That's our orphanage!" Singh said her friends told her.

"It's a real consciousness thing... You cry because you have no shoes until you meet someone who has no feet.

"It's amazing that this has such a Kelowna connection. Hopefully, we can pull it off," she said of bringing the author to Kelowna.

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