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Returning to India

November 2008

Returning to India

Celebrating with the local women and girls

Returning to India

The Pupils of Shri Jagiri Lal Loomba School

Returning to India

Presenting cheques to the Loomba Scholars

For Cherie Blair the secret to improving our homes and by extension the world starts with a simple yet vital move - educating girls. Quote from the Hindustan Times

In November 2008 Cherie returned to Dhilwan village near Chandigarh to inaugurate the renovated buildings of the school there, in her role as President of the Loomba Trust.
In January 2008, The Loomba Trust donated Rs 50 lakhs (US$125,000) for the reconstruction and renovation of the school, which was originally built by His Excellency The Maharaja of Kupurthala, in 1939, to celebrate the Diamond Anniversary of his Accession to the Throne. However, due to neglect and poor maintenance, the building had deteriorated over the years and was not safe for the pupils. The Loomba Trust donation was matched by the Hon'ble Chief Minister of Punjab, Shri Prakash Singh Badal, who also agreed to rename the school after Raj's Father, Shri Jagiri Lal Loomba.
Raj Loomba had attended Dhilwan school with his siblings before moving to Britain where he became a successful,businessman. He never forgot his roots and dedicated his charity to the memory of his Mother; Shrimati Pushpa Wati Loomba, who was herself widowed at a young age. The Loomba Trust is commited to providing practical help to widows in Countries where they are ostracised and neglected,and to their chidren, who suffer similar disadvantage - most particularly through education. On her previous visit in January 2008 Cherie had been honoured to accept a pledge from the Chief Minister of the Punjab to match the funds raised by the Loomba Trust to renovate the school and so she was was delighted to see the significant improvements to the premises on her return. Cherie unveiled a plaque in honour of the occassion and presented cheques to some of the Loomba Trust beneficiaries at the school, she also enjoyed joining in the celebrations with the girl pupils and women from the local commuinity.

As well as visiting the school Cherie also gave a talk on the importance of Educating Girls for the Hindustan Times

The paper covered the speech as follows:

"For Cherie Blair the secret to improving our homes and by extension the world starts with a simple yet vital move - educating girls.

Blair's believes women education can actually help alleviate many of India's problems and even boost our economy.

"In fact, a Goldman Sachs study suggests if over the next 20 years India could narrow the gender gap, it can add a per cent to its already impressive growth rate every year. I understand why the government here is making such great efforts to get girls to schools," said Blair.

Speaking at the HT Leadership Summit on Friday, Blair drew from her personal experience to support her advocacy of education for girls - a gift she said that helped her become who she was. Blair, better known as former British PM Tony Blair's wife, is a leading human rights lawyer and campaigner for women's equality.

"I know education is important to Hindustan Times because I did a Google search on education and education for girls and it threw up hundreds of articles. Without education I would not be here, I would not be the QC (Queen's Counsel)," said Blair, relating how she grew up in an "all female household" in a working class Liverpool.

Speaking on the importance of educating girls, Blair said educated mothers were more likely to educate their children.

Blair said that India was a large country with a huge population, but some issues were a cause for concern.

"It is worrying that UNESCO found that 1 out of 4 children out of education - lives here (India) - more of these are girls," said Blair.

She said often providing a safe, private toilet space could encourage parents to send their girls to school, especially where fears of sexual violence were concerned.

Answering a question on cases of honour killings in India and United Kingdom escalating and strategies to counter them, Blair said: "The first thing I would do is to stop calling these crimes honour killing. There is nothing honourable about them. We pander to them (killers), by calling them honour killings," she said."

Click here for the webcast of Cherie's speech