Wed, Feb 22, 2017 | updated 04:50 AM IST

British envoy launches project with Loomba Foundation to empower 2600 widows in Vrindavan

Updated: Aug 09, 2016 16:10 IST

New Delhi, Aug 9: The Loomba Foundation, a global NGO accredited with the United Nations under DPI and ECOSOC, has announced a partnership project with the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) and Lions Clubs International British Isles and Ireland to provide dignified livelihoods to 2600 impoverished widows in and around India's holy city of Vrindavan.

Under this project, the Loomba Foundation will provide a two-month certificate-based skills training in garment stitching to poor widows, and a foot-operated sewing machine on successful completion of this course.

The Loomba Foundation's Global Widows Report, the most authoritative and comprehensive country-wise data source on the plight of widows, reveals that there are more than 259 million widows worldwide with over 584 million dependent children. At 46.5 million, India now has become the country with the highest number of widows globally.

Launching the sewing machine project, Sir Dominic Asquith KCMG, British High Commissioner to India said, "The British High Commission in India congratulates The Loomba Foundation, the Lions Club International Foundation and the Lions Clubs International - British Isles & Ireland for their tireless efforts in support of this worthy cause."

Lord Raj Loomba CBE, founder and chairman-trustee of The Loomba Foundation, said, "I express my deep gratitude to the British High Commissioner, the Lions Clubs International and other dignitaries who have extended their support to make this project a reality. The ancient city of Vrindavan is also known as the 'city of widows' where women come after the death of their husbands, and are forced to live in deplorable conditions under abject poverty, neglect and abandonment. I also acknowledge India's Women Development Minister Maneka Gandhi for recently announcing India's largest state-of-the-art widows' home for providing better living conditions, vocational training and medical facilities to 1000 widows in Vrindavan. I also invite other organizations and people to come forward and support this cause of needy widows in India and other parts of the world."

The launch event at the British High Commissioner's residence was attended by several dignitaries, including the first vice president of Lions Clubs International Foundation and The Loomba Foundation's patrons Sir Mark Tully OBE and Padma Vikramjit Singh Sahney; Trustees Aruna Oswal, Balbir Singh Kakar, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa. Lion Max Mongia, who played a critical role in forging this partnership project, travelled from London specially to attend the launch. The British High Commissioner felicitated all dignitaries.

According to the agreement between The Loomba Foundation and the Lions Clubs International Foundation, the project will initially start in Vrindavan for 650 widows and will cover three other areas each for 650 widows.

The Loomba Foundation will work closely with the Lions Clubs International Foundation's Past President Lion Barry Palmer, who will periodically visit India to review the progress of the project.

Earlier, in January this year, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi had flagged off a similar sewing machine project by the Loomba Foundation to empower 5000 widows of Varanasi to support their families with honour. Since almost two decades, the Loomba Foundation has been empowering several thousands of widows in different parts of the country. It has also provided five-year-long education scholarships to more than 10,000 children of poor widows and supported more than 60,000 of their family members across 29 states in India.

Currently, it is educating about 1600 children of poor widows in 13 states of India including Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Uttarakhand.

For his exceptional contribution in the field of public service and community service to uplift, emancipate and empower poor widows and their children in India, the Indian Government has conferred the Pravasi Bhartiya Samman Patra on Lord Raj Loomba, who is also the recipient of several other recognitions and accolades including the United Nations Association of New York's Lifetime Achievement Award, the Forbes India Philanthropy Award, British Asian of the Year Award, and an Honorary Fellowship by The University of Northampton. It was due to the efforts of Lord Loomba that the United Nations recognized 23rd June as International Widows Day which is now observed globally and has helped bring the world's attention to this neglected humanitarian crisis that impacts more than 259 million widows and their 584 million children worldwide.

It was on June 23rd that Lord Loomba's late mother, Pushpa Wati Loomba, became a widow at an early age of 37, who faced hardships and prejudices being a widow but succeeded in educating her seven young children single-handedly. (ANI)

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