When Kohli visited Guanacaste, Costa Rica and saw the impoverished living conditions of many of the children there, he found the inspiration he needed to create the Tej Kohli Foundation. Since 2005, the foundation has blessed tens of thousands of children with the food, water, education, and medical care they need to live richer, fuller lives.
Food and Water
Sanitary drinking water and adequate nutrition are real concerns for children in India and Costa Rica, where the poverty rate hovers around 20 percent. Kohli’s foundation sponsors Food for Brood, a free midday meal program that feeds impoverished children in both countries. Because unclean drinking water in these countries can lead to devastating illnesses like cholera and typhoid fever, Kohli’s programme also focuses on bringing sanitized water to the children he sponsors.
“Children are the future and we have to give them something to live for.” This heartfelt statement, made by Kohli, is the rock on which his educational endowment stands. Kohli firmly believes that all Indian children must complete their primary education if India is to succeed as a nation. While the 2009 passing of India’s Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) guarantees schooling for each child, Kohli believes that is not enough.
What began as a $300,000 donation back in 2006 has turned into an ongoing philanthropic programme that supports children who wish to pursue special interests at school and provides scholarships to those who seek higher education. If children’s talents are “nurtured from a young age,” says Kohli, “(India) will be capable of raising its living standards.”
The foundation extends a helping hand to disabled people who need vocational training, as well. Kohli’s goal: To increase self-sufficiency and reduce dependency as a means of liberating India from financial hardship.
According to the World Health Organization, corneal blindness affects over 4.5 million people in India. Tragically, over 60 percent of those suffering blindness are children. Kohli’s foundation has been instrumental in facilitating corneal donations and funding corneal transplants for Indians in need.
Because blindness is more common in developing countries, Kohli also concentrates his efforts on public education and awareness of ophthalmic health care. Right now, about one third of the world’s blind population resides in India.
Kohli was recently named by Forbes as one of the world’s top 15 “entrepreneurs who give back to the community.” Indeed, this man of humble beginnings has propelled himself to greatness in many respects. An accomplished engineer, successful business person, and world-renowned philanthropist, Kohli’s dedication to the nutrition, education, and health care of needy children embodies the adage: “Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime.”