The Loomba Foundation was established in the UK on 26 June 1997 by Lord Raj Loomba CBE and Lady Veena Loomba through a charitable trust deed. It has a sister charity registered in India. The Foundation’s programmes focus on empowerment of widows and education of their children.

The Beginning

The story of the Loomba Foundation begins on 23 June 1954 when Jagiri Lal Loomba, a successful businessman from the small Punjabi town of Dhilwan in the far North of India, died after battling tuberculosis, which was, at the time, a widespread threat to public health. His wife Pushpawati—her name means ‘like a flower’ in Hindi—had to, at the age of 37, care for the family’s seven children.

In accordance with custom, Jagiri’s mother—a widow herself—that same day, ordered her daughter-in-law to remove all her jewellery, and never to wear brightly-coloured clothing again. In an instant, Shrimati Pushpawati Loomba’s world had been shattered: she went from being blessed and happy to disconsolate and sorrowful.

The contrast had a profound impact on her 10-year old son. “I was too young to comprehend the situation,” Lord Loomba now recalls, “but gradually I saw that her life had totally changed. Before, she was a happy wife. Now, she was a distressed widow.” Over the years, Lord Loomba would discover that the family still had much to be thankful for. But that was of little comfort now, as he watched his mother’s despair.

Our Impact

  • Provided scholarships to 10,000 children of poor widows and supported over 60,000 of their family members.
  • Provided vocational training in garment making to 120 Indian widows, 40 of whom were jail inmates.
  • Partnered with Oxfam (UK) to set up an agricultural project to empower 300 widows who were victims of genocide in Rwanda.
  • Supported 1,500 orphans affected by HIV in South Africa since 2006 in partnership with Sir Richard Branson’s charity, Virgin Unite.

The traditional injustice heaped upon widows remained a constant feature of their lives and twelve years later, when Lord Loomba married Veena Chaudhry, “the priest asked my mother to move away from the altar because she was a widow and she could bring bad luck to the couple. I was furious. How could my mother, who gave birth to me, who educated me and always wished me well – bring me bad luck?”

The injustice faced by his mother—symptomatic of a deep-rooted culture that brings misery to millions—is something Lord Loomba never forgot. When his mother passed away in 1992, Loomba, by now a successful businessman in the UK, resolved to do something about it. Five years later, in 1997, Lord Loomba and Veena Loomba established the Shrimati Pushpa Wati Loomba Trust—as the Loomba Foundation was initially known in the UK—to care for widows and their children, and to change the culture that discriminates against them.

From the outset, the Foundation’s focus has been not only on developing meaningful ways of improving the lives of those who suffered this discrimination, but also on engaging governments, industry and the society at large.
On 25 March 1998, then British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife, Cherie Blair, formally launched the Foundation in London. A year later, on 31 March 1999, then Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in a ceremony attended by UK High Commissioner Sir Rob Young, inaugurated the Foundation in New Delhi by lighting a ceremonial lamp at his residence.

The time had come to make a difference.

And the journey continues…

The Loomba Foundation has successfully completed twenty years in serving and improving lives of widows all over the world. Enlightening the path of many children with educational scholarships who were faced with roadblocks after their father’s demise. The Loomba Foundation has triggered a change from villages in Varanasi and Rajasthan to affected families across the globe in villages of Kenya and beyond.

MISSION STATEMENT

At Loomba Foundation, we believe that a woman’s identity should not be defined by her husband and that she should be viewed on her own merit. With this vision, we have strived towards the goals of gender equality and women’s empowerment over the last two decades.

The work of The Loomba Foundation is aimed at improving the lives of widows and their families around the world. We achieve this by implementing poverty-reduction strategies and providing educational opportunities for widows and their children. In this way, we give back to these families the fundamental right to secure their own future.

The Foundation also sees that in many societies, ancient and patriarchal customs and superstitions hinder a widow from leading an independent life. Recognizing this, we seek to remove the social stigma and prejudices associated with widowhood and build a more inclusive society.

In collaboration with UN bodies, other NGOs, government officials, human rights advocates, and prominent leaders, the Foundation fights for over 259 million widows worldwide who suffer prejudice and discrimination.

 

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