The COVID pandemic impacted people around the world in various ways from the physical to the financial and for charities with the sole responsibility to help care for the poor and vulnerable, battling the pandemic was a consistent nightmare.
East Meets West Children’s Foundation was one of the many non-profits that struggled during the pandemic to continue to make a difference in the lives of poor and abandoned children in underdeveloped countries like India, Nepal and Kenya.
The charity was founded in 2008 by a group of people who wanted to make a change for children around the world.
Sparked by Kelowna resident Mohini Singh after adopting a sick young girl from Kolkata, who made a life-altering turn around after receiving proper care, like-minded people came together knowing they could help other children live their best lives, thus creating East Meets West Children’s Foundation.
“I am so happy my daughter’s adoption story led to us coming together to establish this organization. We have been able to help hundreds of children. Many who have now found their forever homes,” said Singh.
In 2021, the charity began with its first donation of $5,000 to the Starbright Children’s Development Centre in Kelowna. The money went to buy a hydraulic therapeutic bed for therapists to use for babies who have positional plagiocephaly.
“Having a proper therapy bed makes it easy for the therapist and the parent or caregiver to work with the infant. The consultants also use it to teach infant massage to the parent and caregiver,” explained Singh.
Working in countries around the world East Meets West went on to support Atmashakti Trust, an NGO that works with forgotten and ignored Indigenous communities in the province of Odisha. The organization is a lifeline to the people who often don’t have clean drinking water and very limited medical care.
East Meets West funded thousands of medical kits that were handed out to villagers. Workers went from village to village teaching people how and when to use the medication.
The charity also supports the Rehma Project in Kenya. The program teaches young girls about their body parts, what sexual harassment is, emotional and physical changes during puberty, measuring for bra sizes, and keeping themselves clean as they grow up.
Back in Kelowna, the charity donated $1,000 to the BC Children’s Hospital in support of a fundraiser led by board member Garry Benson.
The board of directors also decided to support Spring Valley Middle School to help them meet the divergent needs of the students.
However, when the COVID pandemic hit the charity was challenged not only with the inability to hold fundraisers but also to support the children both at home and abroad in the same way due to physical distancing and financial constraints.
The nursery East Meets West supports outside Kolkata closed, leaving the pre-school children with no place to go.
“Families relied on the food at the nursery to feed their children So, we started a food program, we send lunch and snacks home daily,” said Singh. “Mothers line up for food for hours.”
Teaching materials and colouring books were also sent home to keep the children engaged and learning basic skills during this time.
Before COVID, the 42 children attending the nursery were fed and were given snacks at the pre-school.
“We may be a small charity but our work has impacted hundreds of children in the Okanagan and abroad,” explained Singh.
Regular donors have helped to keep the charity afloat, but now as the world opens to a new normal, East Meets West can once again host the Diwali dinner and dance. The event takes place on Oct. 29, at Parkinson’s Rec Centre.
To buy tickets for the Diwali fundraiser are $150 and be purchased at EMWCF.org. A tax receipt for $ 70 will be issued electronically.