Shimla’s witnessing a quiet revolution: women spearhead a voluntary blood donation campaign
REVOLUTIONS, as a rule, happen on the quiet. Slowly and steadily, they gather momentum before bursting on the scene. One such revolution is quietly finding its feet in Shimla: a voluntary blood donation campaign being led by women.
For the past few years, Shimla’s women donors, from all walks of life and of all age-groups, have been working hard to take the movement to the masses. That they’ve been successful is very clear from the fact that blood donation camps have seen a huge surge in the number of women who opt to donate blood; sometimes, their number even crosses that of their male counterparts.
Madhu Sudan, a Shimla resident, is one such example. The 49-year-old teacher has donated blood a mind-boggling 75 times now and is a motivating force in blood donation camps. The idea of blood donation, she says, came to her at an early age when she was 18 and in Chandigarh along with her mother to visit relatives at PGI. “I came across a beggar who was begging for money to buy medicine for the treatment of his ailing child. I later learnt that the child also needed blood — I volunteered to donate blood.” That was the first time. From number 1 to number 75, Madhu Sudan’s made it a promise for life. “That’s because I realise how important it is.”
From the age of 18, she’s donated blood about five times a year and prefers to donate blood for patients in critical conditions. “Because that's when it's the toughest for relatives and attendants to arrange for blood,” she explains.
Snapping closely at heels is Rama Sharma, who at the age of 39, has donated blood 62 times. Besides blood, she's even donated her eyes and kidney after death. “I started donating blood in 1993 at a blood donation camp. But I actually understood its importance in 1995 when I donated blood for a patient whose life depended on it.” Sharma, whose negative blood group makes it all the more important, now donates blood six times a year. “I’m also on the emergency rolls of voluntary blood donors at Shimla’s three hospitals: IGMC, DDU and Kamala Nehru Hospital. “I take my role very seriously indeed.”
Women, however, have found a platform with Ashadeep, a Shimla-based NGO which besides espousing the cause of blood donation, have encouraged women to step forward in a big way. “It’s obvious that efforts have paid dividends,” says Ajay Srivastava, convener of Ashadeep. “The idea of roping in women for this cause germinated in 1998 when we started holding blood donation camps exclusively for women.” Women’s eagerness and fervour for the cause was a cause of surprise for all. “A pleasant surprise,” specifies Srivastava.
Ashadeep played the role of motivator to involve as many women in this endeavor to make it a mass movement in the state and it was felt that women were a capable medium to spread the movement, “as they are sensitive and emotionally attached to whatever cause they support,” believes Srivastava, “for they spread the message fervently. Involving women is a investment for the future.”
Pratibha Singh, MP and wife of Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, is also a regular blood donor. She’s donated blood for about 30 times at various camps. Chief Electoral Officer Manish Nanda, too, is a donor. The number: seven as of now.
At colleges across the capital city, the revolution's spreading slowly but steadily. Rajkiya Kanya Maha Vidhalya and St Bede’s College have regular annual blood donation camps on their campuses, where the girl students actively participate. Vijay Negi, a second-year student at RKMV, recently donated blood at a camp organised by Ashadeep, which saw as many as 75 women get-together for the cause. “It was inspiring and stirring,” says the young student.
Interestingly, women’s involvement is being recognised. Recently, citations and mementos were presented to women donors and some were also honoured by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh.