Lovebirds Poonam Kaushal and Nishkaam Mehta are getting hitched this Valentine’s Day. They’ve teamed up with friends, family and people like you to create the most unconventional wedding gift—with the help of the world’s first hunger-fighting smartphone app.
If you want to understand the story behind Poonam and Nishkaam’s “Million Meals for Love” campaign, you have to go back to the moment Nishkaam asked Poonam for her hand in marriage.
NISHKAAM: “I remember a little speech that I gave at the time that I was on my knees. Just Poonam’s reaction, I knew that I was nervous, right?
Not so much for doubt she would say, “Yes,” but more nervous because the waters were a bit choppy, right? And I think that I was like please, don’t fall over, ring! Please don’t fall into the water.
And so I was a bit nervous about that, I went down on one knee and I just started to express to Poonam how I felt about her. And I think that’s the moment that I just looked at her face and I just, that visual communication from her body language, being YES like a million times over. That’s what I’m going to remember.”
When they started to talk about their big day, they knew they didn’t want a big traditional Indian wedding. Instead, they wanted to incorporate a charitable act into this next chapter of their life. That’s how the idea for “Million Meals for Love” — an ambitious campaign to help hungry children — was born.
POONAM: “The more we thought about it, the more we were researching the World Food Programme — we realized we could maximize our impact to this cause and really make a statement at a significant milestone, this is how we choose to celebrate. We felt that would have a more lasting impact for us and really set the tone for how we want our marriage and our life ahead to be.”
We felt that would have a more lasting impact for us and really set the tone for how we want our marriage and our life ahead to be.
So they challenged their friends, family and anyone who cared about the issue of child hunger to download the World Food Programme’s Share the Meal app. Their goal? To provide 1 million meals to children impacted by Boko Haram’s violence in Cameroon. They set a fitting deadline — Valentine’s Day, the day of their civil ceremony.
Listen below to the full episode.
As a pediatrician, Poonam spent time in the Himalayas and remote communities in Peru witnessing the impact of malnutrition on young children. When she and Nishkaam started to think about the possibility of having children themselves, that’s when the issue felt to them even more of a personal cause.
NISHKAAM: “The wakeup call for us was when we got ahead and started talking about life more seriously and one day having kids of our own, that’s when for us this went from like an intellectual awareness to almost like a visceral reaction. Where we could now relate to children a bit better than we were able to before and so for us to know that those children in Cameroon who are going through these frankly horrible conditions and experiences. I think the idea that now that there’s those children who are getting fed who are able to go to school, were able to stay in school, that truly means a lot for us.”
The wakeup call for us was when we got ahead and started talking about life more seriously one day having kids of our own, that’s when for us this went from like an intellectual awareness to almost like a visceral reaction.
With just four days until they wed in a civil ceremony, Poonam and Nishkaam need your help to reach their Million Meals for Love goal. They knew tackling an issue as big as child hunger requires everyone to be on board and commit.
POONAM: “So we are first of all very thankful for all the support we received from all our family and friends in the online community, everyone who has encountered this. There are so many people who have given us such positive encouragement in countries around the world. People who don’t know us or we don’t have any connection to, so we have a lot of gratitude for how well this has been received. The thing that we want to tell everybody is anything that you can do — whether you share it, whether you donate on your own, can really make a big difference. The more impact we can have by coming together for this particular Million Meals for Love team, the better. That desire, that feeling of fulfillment, doesn’t come until you participate.“
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