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Blindness & Poverty

Local philanthropy – Help from home

Source: Panay News

Local funding for initiatives to improve communities has risen recently due many emerging economies having established philanthropists of their own willing to invest in their own, and surrounding, communities future.


Philanthropy is present across the globe, however it has always been sourced from the wealthy west populated by tech tycoon Bill Gates, TV personality Oprah and investor Warren Buffet. Across the south, many globalised elite in poorer regions like parts of Africa have emerged and began to invest into humanitarian and development needs.

Locally funded initiatives have been said to have a much more holistic, flexible and long-term approach. This can often encourage social cohesion and community morale, creating a more resilient and whole community.

Whilst large, global entities donating and funding programmes in developing counties can assist in aid, local investors and philanthropists have much more direct affect. Locally funded initiatives can implement support for a longer period of time and develop a relationship between themselves and the communities they are supporting.

Local funders also have a connection within the areas they are supporting. The donors are able to understand their aid with much more context and emotion. They will understand the places and the people that they are supporting.

The Tej Kolhi and Ruit Foundation has a sense of locality to it due to the cause being extremely close to Dr Ruit. Having grown up in a remote area in Nepal, he knew what is was like to not have access to necessities such as healthcare. This is what pushed him to become a doctor and support those same communities he grew up in. Investing in a cause such as blindness and poverty is something extremely important and impactful that will continue for years to come.

Working in unison with an already established doctor from the south encouraged us to ensure that this organisation was south-orientated. With the constant churn of western NGO’s and the celebration of them throughout western media, we wanted this to be homegrown, organic and resourceful. Being a part of this organisation and having myself involved and connected to this organisation is my way to take a step back from the idea that southern countries and communities are completely dependent upon the west. Having a direct line and connection is something that is important to me and the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation.

It is to be said though that many local philanthropists have concerns over which initiatives and programmes they fund – often due to conflicts with a political stance. Different political positions can have a large influence over the way individuals function within society. This is clear when we look at the treatment of women within remote communities in Nepal. Across various communities women are treated as second class citizens which is often overlooked by many people who have the resources to make a difference. Being able to cure women on blindness in impoverished communities gives them a chance to restart their life and regain their humanity and identity. With this being prime example of a human rights issue being overlooked it is important to keep in mind that this sort of funding can become troublesome in certain regions, this is why a lot of philanthropy tends to revolve around education and healthcare – the infrastructure that allows society to function regularly.

Having localised funding available throughout many developing countries will give each region and community a chance to grow without having to be heavily reliant on other nations or governments. I personally see this as a good thing, direct intervention has worked incredibly within my foundations and have shown real progress.


For more information on Tej Kohli and eye care – visit tejkohliruit.com or read more on medium

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Tej Kohli

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