The year was 1939; the place, the state of Nawanagar in British India. Half a world away, the Germans had invaded Poland, and the country was being torn apart between the Nazis and the Soviets. The Maharaja of Nawanagar watched from afar with one thing on his mind – how could he help? – help the children being orphaned, being sent to prison camps – little lives decimated by war?
He found the answer by offering care to 1,000 children, who traveled by train to Persia and then 1,500 kms in army trucks to a village called Balachadi. There, newly-built dormitories awaited them – clean beds, clean clothes, food, medical care. The maharaja even brought Polish teachers to India to provide education for the children. He greeted them on arrival with these words, "You are no longer orphans. From now on, you are Nawanagarians and I am bapu, father of all Nawanagarians."
The children stayed in India until 1947 when they were moved to England for resettlement. They described their years in India as filled with sports and school and carefree play. One of the Balachadi kids, now long since grown up, said, "I have no idea what would have happened to us, a thousand kids… the war was everywhere. I have no idea what they would have done with us. Nobody wanted us." Oh, but one man did, a very special man… a man who believed in something quite ordinary – helping.