Nishkaam Mehta MBA ’12 and Poonam Kaushal are getting married on Valentine’s Day. But the big news isn’t the wedding. It’s that the couple donated $20,000 to charity — the money they decided not to spend on a lavish traditional Indian wedding — and then went on social media to ask their family, friends and the whole world to join them in a fundraising campaign to provide a million school meals to children affected by the Boko Haram violence in Cameroon.
“The wedding sets the tone and defines how we want our marriage to start off,” Mehta told The New York Times. “We wanted our wedding to reflect the life we hope we lead as a married couple.”
Mehta and Kaushal will tie the knot in a civil ceremony at City Hall in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday. Kaushal, a pediatrician, had seen firsthand in her work here and abroad the devastating effects of hunger on children. She and Mehta wanted to increase awareness about this problem beyond their local community. In researching nonprofits for their campaign, they found ShareTheMeal, an app from the World Food Programme, where a donation of 50 cents feeds a child for a day.
Through the program’s app, Mehta and Kaushal created team #MillionMealsforLove. The pair donated $20,000 — which could supply 40,000 meals — to kickstart a 30-day crowdfunding campaign. By the end of Feb. 14, they hope to raise enough money for a million meals. This community effort will be the most meaningful gift for them and their future children, the couple told CNN.
Mehta and Kaushal wrote on Facebook: “Your contribution will help to provide school meals to 25,000 children affected by Boko Haram violence. The children are between 4 and 13 years old and live in Logone and Chari, in Cameroon’s Far North region. They are currently missing out on school meals because of a lack of funding.”
Mehta, who earned his MBA with an emphasis in finance and venture capital, holds a number of positions. He is a venture partner in GSF Global; an investor and member of the board of directors for Zoomcar, Inventure.org and MobStac; an investor and adviser for Comedy.com and is part of the screening committee for Mumbai Angels.
As of Monday, Feb. 13, the efforts had raised enough for 160,000 meal rations, according to Mehta.