The core work of the Loomba Foundation started with the education of the children of poor widows. When a woman loses her husband she loses her position in society, she is often poor, uneducated and unable to remarry. She is often ostracised by the community. She has to depend on her children who often become bread winners for the family. Children of widows can end up as street children or working in factories where child abuse is commonplace.
Loomba Foundation beneficiaries, school in Dhilwan in Punjab (in 2002)
How does the Loomba Foundation Help Children?
With the help of our donors the Loomba Foundation provides a scholarship cheque to each child every month, which covers the cost of uniform, school books, school lunch, nutrition supplementation, healthcare, and support for his or her mother.
Once selected, a beneficiary is supported for a period of five years initially. The money is deposited once every three months into a joint bank account opened for the mother and child. The Loomba Foundation India office then checks that this money is being spent on the child’s education and general well-being, i.e. nutrition, healthcare, and recreation. Annual progress reports are obtained from the children’s school to ensure that the child’s education remains a high priority.
Our Office in India Manages our Students
The Loomba Foundation has an office in Delhi with a country head and three programme officers. In addition, there are field workers and coordinators who manage and look after the beneficiaries in different states. Their main work includes meeting students, their mothers and school principals. They distribute scholarship cheques to the students and submit their annual exam results to the Loomba Foundation office in Delhi.
The following case studies highlight how children benefit from our education work.
Geeta Kotia was one of the first students to receive a Loomba Foundation scholarship in 1999 in Delhi, in India. She and her widowed mother and siblings had been reduced to the repetitive task of making envelopes that earned the family very little money. Once she received the Loomba Foundation scholarship, Geeta completed her schooling and went on to study textile design at university. She went on to secure a job with a starting salary of Rs. 10,000 a month.
President Cherie Blair with beneficiaries at Shri Jagiri Lal Loomba Government Senior Secondary School in Dhilwan
Fifteen year-old Rajwinder from Ludhiana in Punjab has received a Loomba Foundation scholarship since 2002, four years after her father’s death from a heart attack at the age of 38. Rajwinder’s mother, Amarjit Kaur, was suddenly left with no means of support.
With no formal education herself, Mrs. Kaur could not find a job that would cover the family’s needs, and without any financial support from her family or her late husband’s family, she had to take on menial work simply to sustain her family. Despite this extreme plight, Mrs. Kaur was determined that her children should continue their education that she had not; the launch of the Loomba Foundation’s education programme in Punjab came at a crucial time when Mrs. Kaur was considering – not for the first time – withdrawing Rajwinder from school.
The Foundation’s five-year sponsorship of Rajwinder has been a great support to the family and Rajwinder has flourished at school. She has ambitions of a career in the arts and the Foundation will support her until her education is complete.
The Prime Minister of India distributing scholarship cheques to beneficiaries at the launch of the charity in Dehli in 1999
Prashant’s father, the late Shri Madan Lal, was a construction worker in New Dehli. Though his income was modest, he and his family were happy and Prashant and his siblings were doing well at school.
However, Madan’s sudden death at the age of 45 left Prashant’s mother, Sheetal, in a very real crisis. With no familial support she had to start stitching clothes in her neighbourhood in order to provide food for her family. Maintaining her children’s education was fast becoming impossible, so the grant of a scholarship to Prashant in 2003 came as a great relief.
Prashant’s progress in school meant that the Foundation’s grant was extended beyond the initial five-year period. Now 19, Prashant has achieved what his father always dreamed about for his children and has entered college to study for a degree in commerce, after which he hopes to become a Chartered Accountant.
Mamta’s story is common to many of the students associated on the Loomba Foundation education programme. Her father, Roshan, had died following a lengthy illness, plunging the family into extreme financial hardship. Not only had the family lost their father and their source of income, but all of their modest savings had been spent on lengthy and expensive treatment for Roshan’s illness.
Mamta’s mother, Saroj, had few options. Her own parents could provide no assistance, since they too were living a hand-to-mouth existence. The possibility of help from her late husband’s family did not even arise. With only her neighbours’ benevolence and her stitching job to support them, Saroj came close to withdrawing her children from school.
Fortunately, Mamta’s school alerted her mother to the Loomba Foundation’s educational programme. Mamta was granted a scholarship immediately and has flourished at school. In particular, she has excelled on the sports field, representing her school in numerous competitions and has a bright future ahead of her.
Lakshmi, who is 14 and from Chennai in the state of Tamil Nadu, lost her father 9 years ago when, at the age of 40, he lost his lengthy battle against Tuberculosis.
Lakshmi’s father’s death left the family in a fragile situation. With no property, support from family, or the means to earn money, Lakshmi’s mother came close to withdrawing her and her sister from school.
Fortunately, the Loomba Foundation was, at this stage, looking for a partner trust in Chennai with whom it could launch an education programme locally. In 2003 it joined with the Sriram Welfare Trust, which was a well established education charity in the city. The two trusts jointly identified 200 poor children of widows, one of whom was Lakshmi, who continues to progress well. She hopes to study for an MBA so that she, in turn, can support her mother.
Loomba Foundation President, Cherie Blair, in Mumbai in 2011
Sandeep was only eight years old when his father died at the age of 37 following a harrowing battle with cancer. At the time of his father’s death Sandeep was on the verge of being withdrawn from school. Not only had his father’s illness prevented him from working, but all of the family’s money had been spent on his treatment.
Fortunately, Sandeep’s school alerted his mother, Kokilaben, to the newly launched Loomba Foundation programme in their home state of Gujarat. Sandeep’s continuing progress at school has not only led to an extension of his scholarship, but more importantly, it has his inspired his brother and sister to join him at school.
Now 21, Pragati’s progress has been rapid. She will soon be completing her post-graduated degree in economics, after which she hopes to work as an economist for the Indian Government.
Her future could have been very different, however. Her father’s death from kidney failure, when Pragati was 14, threatened to end her education. Though her mother, Karnal, was earning a modest income as a teacher, her lack of formal qualifications prevented her from doing much beyond tutoring local children. With no support from her family or in-laws, Pragati’s Loomba Foundation scholarship came just in the nick of time. Not only did it help a very promising pupil continue her education, but it enabled Karnal to continue to send Pragati’s two younger sisters to school.
Loomba Foundation beneficiaries receive their scholarship cheques, India 2012
Aged 17 and from New Delhi, Jetender, his brother, sister and mother, have faced particular hardship. Though Jetender’s father was earning money as a driver, most of his income was spent on his drinking habit. When he died in a motorbike accident in 1998 the family were left destitute. With no money or support Jetender’s elder siblings were withdrawn from school by their mother, who had to take on a job that involved her making envelopes out of old paper.
Determined to provide Jetender with the means by which he could fulfil his obvious promise, Jetender’s teachers helped the family contact the Loomba Foundation, and we immediately granted him a scholarship. Not only did this change Jetender’s life, but it also took a significant strain from his mother, who was subsequently able to put her other two children back into full-time education.
Helping Children like Geeta, Prashant and Jetender
Would you like help children like Geeta, Prashant and Jetender? You can make a donation to our education program so we can continue providing more children with the education they deserve.