Action For Future Generations

Like any parent, I want my children to thrive. I want them to have as many opportunities as possible to build lives for themselves that they are happy and proud of.

I am not alone in this wish, it is one shared by other parents, teachers, charities, businesses and governments across the world. On the 20th of November the UN celebrated World Children’s Day. The goal of the day each year is to promote international unity, raise awareness amongst children and improve children’s welfare across the globe. This years theme was ‘Inclusion, For Every Child’ which aimed to empower children to fight for a better, more inclusive and equal world.

I am fortunate enough to be able to give my family food, shelter, warmth and the occasional spoiling gift — however I am all too aware that this is not the case for many people in the world.

Whilst living in Costa Rica in the early 2000s, I saw just how much suffering occurred and just how many children were being dealt a poor hand when it comes to socioeconomic prospects in many areas in developing nations.

COVID-19, climate change and conflict

But now, times are getting tougher and tougher for a variety of reasons that many of us did not expect two decades ago. We, the global community, faced two years of a pandemic that uprooted society as we knew it.

Schools in across the world are being swept away by floods or set alight by raging forest fires. And this is not just a problem in the Global South, though the effects of climate change are being felt very heavily there, it is happening everywhere. Last year in Louisiana, USA, 29 schools shut and 41,000 children were forced to stay home due to the devastating effects of Hurricane Ida. Schools around the world are shutting early in summertime as they cannot afford to install air conditioning and keeping children inside becomes a health hazard.

On top of rising temperatures and flood risks, many children around the world face threats from conflict and violence on a daily basis. According to UNICEF’s Executive Director Catherine Russell, 400 million children live in conflict zones. The knock-on effect of living in a conflict zone is that resources become scarce, sometimes due to rationing, other times due to destroyed infrastructure. Schools have been blasted by bombs and artillery, and many millions have no access to food, clean water, hygiene products and sanitation.

Additionally, cases of extreme poverty are predicted to be on the rise according to charity Oxfam. Due to rising food costs in the wake of the Ukraine Russia War, many are facing high food costs and soaring energy bills that are pushing families deeper into poverty. How can we expect children to feel safe and secure when they think about their futures when their present days can’t be guaranteed?

Where do we go from here?

It’s vital for the global community to recognise the problems that future generations are facing in both the developed and the developing world. The Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation, a charity myself and Dr Sanduk Ruit co-founded in 2021, has treated many children for needless cataract blindness. Cataract blindness amongst children is just another problem to add to the list of suffering that many children experience. Yet, it’s entirely treatable with the right structures in place and implementing them is what is needed.

By improving the structures in communities, at both a local and global level, there is hope to improve the lives of future generations. A particularly strong argument is to invest in primary healthcare systems which will protect us from future pandemics, as well as create a lasting legacy of resilient and sustainable communities.

We at the foundation are aware that to create this goal of resilient and sustainable societies, interventions are needed. Interventions to make healthcare more accessible and affordable will help reduce the number of people living their day to day lives in partial or total blindness. Interventions to improve peoples and communities awareness of cataracts will reduce the number of cases of cataracts that go untreated for long periods, and ultimately cause total blindness.

When children are hindered by blindness, their education is often sacrificed as they are unable to take part in the classroom and they are more likely to end up leaving school prematurely. By improving accessibility, affordability and awareness, we at the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation hope to see the numbers of children, and adults, living with cataracts in the developing world decrease, and in turn see socioeconomic standards improve.

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Tej Kohli

Tej Kohli is a technologist and investor who is best known for curing blindness in the developing world as co-founder of the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation