Mumbai: UOB, a leading bank in Asia, has collaborated with the Akshaya Patra Foundation to distribute 4,411 happiness kits to underprivileged children in Thane, Maharashtra during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The happiness kits contained groceries such as ragi flour, peanuts, jaggery, fortified salt, desi chana, oil and glucose biscuits, and were distributed among underprivileged children who have been going without mid-day meals since schools shut down due to the pandemic. The kits also contained educational items such as a notebook, pen, and personal hygiene products such as soap, toothpaste, and toothbrush.
Amid the pandemic, the livelihoods of India’s most vulnerable members of the community have been severely impacted, in turn affecting their health, nutrition and well-being. The 2020 Global Nutrition Report found that India is among 88 countries likely to miss global nutrition targets set by the World Health Assembly, a situation worsened by COVID-19. These targets were meant to be met by 2025.
The funds used to purchase the happiness kits were raised during the UOB Global Heartbeat Virtual Run/Walk last year, UOB’s flagship employee volunteerism and fundraising event. UOB colleagues from across the Bank’s global network, including India, stepped up to raise funds for charities, clocking a total distance of more than 200,000 km throughout the month of October. UOB’s global markets which participated in the UOB Global Heartbeat Virtual Run/Walk included Australia, Brunei, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Mainland China, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and Vietnam.
Their collective efforts also saw the Bank donate an additional S$75,000 to 17 charities and welfare organisations as part of the Bank’s #UnitedForYou COVID-19 Relief Programme. The global programme had already directed more than S$1.65 million to help frontline healthcare workers and vulnerable members of the community overcome the challenges of COVID-19.
P.V. Ananthakrishnan, Country Head, UOB India, said, “Hidden hunger is a rising issue in India and a cause for concern. The issue was made worse during the pandemic as the livelihoods of many underprivileged families were impacted, pushing them further into poverty. This resulted in many children from these families having to go hungry during the day.
“We hope that through our contribution to Akshaya Patra Foundation’s COVID-19 Food Relief Efforts, we will be able to provide these children with a nourishing meal to fill their stomachs as the fight against COVID-19 continues.”
Shridhar Venkat, CEO, The Akshaya Patra Foundation, said, “We deeply appreciate donors such as UOB for collaborating with us. Through such strong partnerships, we aim to build a generation that can break free from their current socio-economic status, a generation that is healthier, educated and far better equipped to take on the world. UOB has been involved in social development, particularly in the areas of art and education for children.”
Till date, Akshaya Patra has served 12 crore meals during the pandemic from March 2020.