Thursday, July 03, 2008

Widows across the globe remembered - M.E.N Media - 2nd July 2008

International widows day was celebrated at Trafalgar Square in London with over 300 celebrities, VIP’s and high profile dignitaries from the UK and abroad who joined in unison with members of the public to remember the plight that widows face across the world.

Staged by the Loomba Trust, a UK-based charity which fights to improve the position of widows in the developing world, the concert featured an international line up of entertainment, including critically acclaimed Icelandic opera singer Cortes; Bhangra music legends Malkit Singh and Channi Singh; Bollywood dancing sensation, Honey Kalaria; female Bhangra vocalist, Mona Singh; and an array of vibrant dancers from the Indian Subcontinent and the UK.

Hosted by GMTV presenter, Clare Nasir, the concert was opened by The Loomba Trust’s Founder and chairman, Raj Loomba and president, Cherie Blair with a ceremonial release of white doves from the stage.

The Loomba Trust, which was founded in 1997, supports practical projects to help thousands of widows and their children in Asia and Africa as well as campaigning to push the plight of widows up the international agenda.

This is helping to remedy a position where the plight of widows in many developing countries is often forgotten. It is estimated that there are over 100 million widows worldwide who suffer dreadful prejudice and discrimination – denied their right to inheritance, abused, shunned and pushed to the very fringes of society. And, of course, it is their children who also suffer, often being brought up in such poverty that they can’t afford schooling.

This cycle of deprivation is a major obstacle to tackling global poverty and meeting the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.

Mr Loomba said: "It’s a travesty that the developed world has overlooked for so long the sufferings of widows and their children in many parts of the world. The injustices and hardships that they face go beyond belief and, rather than receiving the aid and support they need, they are subjected to lives of social rejection, alienation and misery.

"The struggles attached to widowhood are universal, and something of which I have personal experience, seeing my own mother struggling to raise myself and my siblings in the harshest of conditions. Into adulthood, I decided that I would do my utmost to eradicate the sufferings of widow communities across the globe, in whatever capacity I can, and I hope to rally support and recognition from nations, organisations and people across the globe."

The Loomba Trust, whose patrons include Sir Mark Tully, Alastair Stewart, Yoko Ono and Joanna Lumley, is working to ease the hardships facing widows across the world. It is funding the education of thousands of children of poor widows across India.

In partnership with Virgin Unite, Sir Richard Branson’s charity, the Trust supports a community building project for 1,500 orphans with HIV/AIDS in South Africa, and has become a global partner with HRH Prince of Wales’ charity, Youth Business International, and has launched the Loomba Entrepreneur Programmes to help young widows set up businesses in Uganda, Kenya, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

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