We must do all we can to alleviate the suffering of children during times of crisis to ensure healthy and happy future generations are fostered.
A 2020 study on the falling living standards during the Covid-19 pandemic published by Science Advances took evidence from over 30,000 respondents across nine countries, one being Nepal that the foundation myself and Dr Sanduk Ruit founded, the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation visited.
The results showed that respondents’ household incomes had fallen between 8% and 87%, the median level an immense 68%. Sadly, the strategies respondents had in place and the government intervention tactics were not enough to halt the negative effects of a slip into poverty. Families suffered food insecurity and dwindling economic prospects in the face of the pandemic and ultimately, it seems that children suffered the greatest.
We’ve seen in the news that when living conditions at home started to deteriorate, children are faced with a tremendous amount of problems. From seeing family members in emotional distress to going to sleep hungry. It’s heartbreaking that in this modern age children can still experience such difficult times.
We all know how important it is for people of all ages to have a well balanced diet to ensure they can function to their full potential. I recognised this as a problem first hand when I was living in Costa Rica in the early 2000s. I decided to take it upon myself to make a difference and so decided to launch a project called FundaKohli.
The aim of the project was to make a long-lasting positive effect on the welfare of children in Costa Rica. Income equality in the nation is a pressing issue and it can weigh heavily on the children of the country. In rural communities where access to infrastructure is scarce, the need for intervention is clear, and something as seemingly small as one hot meal a day can make all the difference.
Since it began in 2005, FundaKohli has fed thousands of children and their families. I wanted to use the foundation to help support their future prospects through educational packages and solar-powered sports facilities which have enormous effects on children’s wellbeing and happiness.
These problems that children face are sadly not limited to children in developing countries. Many children in the UK faced trying times during their crucial developing years throughout Covid-19.
During the pandemic, and still today with the cost of living crisis, many people and children are not able to eat sufficient amounts of food and for children in education, this can be disastrous.
I became aware of the problems many children faced during the pandemic and wanted to make an intervention to help alleviate suffering as much as possible. I decided to set up YouCubeBox.com, a youth-focused food support package, through my foundation the Tej Kohli Foundation. I aimed for the initiative to provide tangible and supportive help to underprivileged children in the country.
YouCube was launched in May 2020 with an aim to combat holiday hunger that 1.2 million children in England faced. We executed a pilot scheme with Southall Community Alliance which still provides a weekly package to 400 families a week during all school holidays to families that usually rely on free school meals. Supporting children as much as possible is a vital aspect of nurturing the next generation and I believe that through initiatives such as YouCube, all will benefit.
Alongside my food support packages, myself and Dr Sanduk Ruit founded the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation which works to eradicate cataract blindness to rid of extreme poverty in developing countries. So far we have cured over 21,000 cases of blindness and sadly we have encountered many children who suffer needlessly from cataract blindness.
Without sight, many children such as the children in our most recent documentary, struggle to navigate daily life. School is a challenge as they cannot see the classroom or their homework and it can lead to blind children dropping out. Without a quality education, children have little opportunities to grow into adults that live in an inescapable cycle of poverty. The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation aims to intervene in all cases of child blindness we encounter in order to give children the best possible opportunities for their futures.
I believe that by focusing financial and supportive charitable packages on children in both local and far reaching points of the world, we as a global collective can nurture future generations.