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Lebara Foundation’s support of refugee and displaced children in developing countries

News Stories, 23 February 2012

Yoganathan Ratheesan; Lebara CEO and founder

1. What is the main driving force behind Lebara’s commitment to help 100,000 children across ten different countries?

Lebara has been supporting education projects for disadvantaged children in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka since 2005, through the Lebara Foundation, the non-profit philanthropic arm of the organisation. In September 2011 we celebrated the tenth anniversary of Lebara and we wanted to do something special to commemorate this significant landmark in our company’s history. We were keen to give something back to some of the countries where Lebara customers have family and friends. With this in mind, we announced our target to raise €1 million, from a percentage of customer top-ups in all of our eight countries of operation, over a three month period. In November 2011, we reached the target and donated the funds to projects run by the UNHCR and the IFRC, specifically to help provide education to over 100,000 of the world’s most vulnerable children across ten countries around the world.  

2. Why do you feel education is very important, especially for children in need? 

I first came to the UK as a refugee from Sri Lanka when I was a child. Access to a strong education system has provided me with the skills to set up my own business and the capacity to drive its growth and success. I believe that education is critical to young children by providing the skills and knowledge for a better future. I feel very fortunate for the opportunities that I have had and I feel privileged to be in a position now to help others who are less fortunate through the Lebara Foundation.

3. What does Lebara hope to achieve through its generous contribution?

We hope that this donation will enable some of those most in need to get access to a good education. This should be a life-changing experience for them and we hope it will give them and their families a better, fairer future.

4. How do you feel about the plight of disadvantaged children?

I first became passionate about helping vulnerable children when I witnessed first-hand the impact of the 2004 Tsunami in Sri Lanka. I was concerned by the number of children who lost their parents, their livelihoods and any opportunities for a better future. Children are the future of communities and for the thousands of kids around the world who live in poverty without access to education, their future and that of their communities seems very bleak. That’s why it’s so important that countries and companies work together to deliver opportunities for better, more sustainable futures.

5. Why is it important for Lebara to mark its 10th anniversary by supporting the work of UNHCR?

We are very proud of what we have achieved at Lebara over the last decade. From the outset, our focal ambition for Lebara has been to grow a company that would enrich the lives of migrant communities by connecting them with family and friends back home. My co- founders and I felt moved to mark our tenth anniversary by giving back to underprivileged children in countries where we have strong connections through our customers. Our customers are the lifeblood of the company; they enable us to give back through our charity projects. We chose the UNHCR as it is an independent organisation that is already running large-scale successful projects with disadvantaged children in some of the countries where we wanted to focus our efforts. We are also working with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in four countries. More information on each of the ten projects can be found here

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