Chow Tai Fook: Making A Marked Impact for Schoolchildren in India through Touch A Life Foundation

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With a 30% secondary school attendance rate in rural and tribal India, Naresh Surana knew something needed to be done to help his country’s poorest youth receive a quality education. Once children reach the eighth grade, they stop getting free text books from the government. Unable to afford the expense of buying books, they drop out. Surana firmly believes that education is the most important part of development for India. After many years in the diamond industry, he founded the Touch A Life Foundation, serving India’s most underprivileged youth through programs supporting education. The Hong Kong based nonprofit seeks to pair companies wanting to give back with those in need across India in a unique and innovative way.

Children in class at one of Touch A Life’s beneficiary schools.

“We don’t want to talk about charity,” says Surana, we want to talk about responsibility,” a value also shared by Hong Kong-based company, Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group.

“Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group has been committed to sustainable growth and positive support to the communities we touch,” says Chow Tai Fook Executive Director Bobby Liu. “We share the belief of the Touch A Life Program, which is to empower the children towards the betterment of society.” It is this belief that prompted Chow Tai Fook to become Touch A Life’s first corporate sponsor for their Books For Change Program in 2019, helping bring crucial educational materials to those who need them most in India.

For the partnership, Liu made his first-ever trip to India with some other Chow Tai Fook Executives to personally witness the program’s impact and learn about its innovative tracking system, something that sets Touch A Life apart as being truly unique.

An instructor scanning a QR code for materials that will be distributed to his students.

Its novel approach to tracking program progress and allowing companies to have hands-on access to the programs they support is something that has afforded the organization great success.

Much like T MARK, launched by Chow Tai Fook, and the “4Ts” concept to highlight the ethical origin and authenticity of a diamond, Touch A Life’s Programming catalogs the complete giving process from donation to the exact child helped. This allows donor to truly see the impact they are making in the lives of these children.

Chow Tai Fook Executive Director Bobby Liu scanning a book to verify its delivery to a student.

“Today, people are looking at the origin of diamonds [and where they are coming from],” says Touch A Life Co-Founder Naresh Surana. A company can log onto their Touch A Life portal and see exactly where their money is being spent, as well as photos and videos of each individual child receiving their crucial educational materials.

“I think the traceability program platform is excellent,” adds Chow Tai Fook Deputy Head Cyrus Cheng. “The initiative is building trust between the donor and the people in need . . . [and we] see that the program really works here.” It is this trust between donor and charity partner that Mr. Surana was striving for with the organization’s inception. The traceability program goes beyond the usual reporting of results and impact made, allowing the donor to truly see the impact made. It also allows no room for wasted funds, cataloging every dollar spent and ensuring that it is turned directly into positive impact.

A student gets her photo taken to create her unique ID tag.

In addition to tracking materials donated, the Touch A Life tracking system documents each student, whom receive a personalized identification tag that is then used to catalog the items he or she received. Once a child receives a book, a QR code is scanned and logged into the Touch A Life Portal corresponding with each individual student that the book was given to as well as the school they attend.

“Through visiting the schools,” Liu continues, “I can feel the presence and impact of the program and how it works right now in India.”

This year alone, the Books for Change Program has helped a total of 3,400 students across 31 schools, distributing 26,000 books. The program has seen such tremendous success, that Chow Tai Fook has committed to continuing the Program through 2020

To learn more about Touch A Life initiatives, visit https://touchalife.hk

The Chow Tai Fook & Touch A Life teams with school staff and students.

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