New Delhi, India (PressExposure) June 02, 2008 -- Who is Raj Loomba and what is his connection with over three thousand poor, fatherless children in India? Who would understand the plight of young children who lose their father at an early age but a person like Raj Loomba who himself lost his father at the tender age of 12?
The 67-year old, London- based NRI, Raj Loomba, has touched the lives of these fatherless children empowering them with education and saving them from a lifetime's vicious cycle of child labour, abuse and petty crime. The grit and determination of his mother Pushpa Wati Loomba, then a young widow of 37, to see her seven children through life, without letting the incident mar their future, left an everlasting impression on the mind of the young Raj Loomba.
Born in Dhilwan in Punjab on 15 March 1942, [http://www.theloombatrust.org/raj_loomba.php] Raj Loomba worked in an asbestos factory on first arriving in Britain in 1962. The initial years in England were full of hardships for him. From driving an ice cream van to running a market stall and finally to owning a textile business grou worth millions, Raj Loomba's is an inspirational rag-to-riches story.
But what makes the story really remarkable is what Raj Loomba did after he made his millions. When his mother passed away at the age of 75, he decided to dedicate himself to a cause which would keep her name alive forever. He took up the cause ten years ago of an oft neglected section of society: poor widows and their hapless children.
Raj Loomba, with his wife Veena, established The Shrimati Pushpa Wati Loomba Memorial Trust in United Kingdom in 1997 to raise awareness of and care for, poor widows and their dependents. Loomba Trust, which completed ten years, has Cherie Booth QC (wife of Tony Blair) as its President and Sir Richard Branson, head of Virgin Group, as its Patron-in Chief. The Trust is patronised by many blazing personalities including Rt. Hon Countess Mountbatten of Burma, Sir Sigmund Sternberg and Sir Mark Tully, amongst others.
The phenomenal success of the Loomba Trust propelled by untiring effort of Raj Loomba won him accolades like the Asian of the Year award and some criticism in the first few years. While people who were moved by the cause joined hands with him, critics tried to belittle him and his cause by dubbing it as self-promotion to seek honours. Hurt, but not demoralised, he stuck to his noble work and managed to silence his critics as Loomba Trust grew from strength to strength.
The growth of Loomba Trust in the first decade has been remarkable and today is pioneering newer grounds. The Trust, which started with a target of educating at least 100 children in each of India's 29 states, has exceeded its target last year. It educates over 3,600 children of poor widows across India providing each with a scholarship to fund their education for a period of five years. Besides, the trust is working with Virgin Unite to support HIV/Aids affected children in South Africa and is helping create opportunities for young widows in Kenya, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in partnership with Youth Business International, a charity of HRH The Prince of Wales.
To make widows self-reliant the latest project, Loomba Trust Entrepreneurship programme, will train one hundred widows in Hair and Beauty Care in partnership with Blossom Kochhar Group that will provide this training free of cost. After training, these widows will be assisted to find jobs or set up their own businesses.
The Loomba Trust has organized an intensive programme of fund raising and awareness events including its renowned Diwali dinners every year in London co-hosted by Mayor Ken Livingstone and a charity, London First. The Diwali dinner this year at London raised a quarter of a million pounds - an amount which will be donated to the cause of widows and their children.
Similar dinners have been held in New York, Johhanesburg and Newcastle last year. A glittering charity film premiere of Deepa Mehta's 'Water' on the plight of widows was held by the trust to raise funds. A Bollywood concert was staged at Trafalgar Square last year. For its innovative and socially important projects, Asian Who's Who International named the Loomba Trust as the Charity of the Year.
Aware that injustice against widows is a significant problem in many countries; in 2005 the Trust designated June 23 as International Widows Day - the day Pushpa Wati became a widow - an annual day of awareness and focus for sustained action to bring about change. Raj Loomba has successfully celebrated the third International Widows Day this June besides holding an International Widows Conference in association with the Indiaâs Minister for Women and Child Welfare.
Working on his philosophy of vision, resources, effort and luck - a philosophy which saw his phenomenal success in business- [http://www.chathamhouse.org.uk/about/council/raj_loomba] Raj Loomba hopes that his work one day would move the United Nations to recognise June 23rd as the International Widows Day - which will help Loomba Trust herald a better future for poor widows and their children.