Say Hello!

Say Hello…..

To me and my sadness
Say hello
To incessant fate of darkness
Say hello
To that every eager eye
Full of questions intend to spy
The disease from which I’ll die
With sunken darken lips
And ready to break ribs
With ever hollow veins
And never fulfilled dreams
I desire
For a body, life and soul
Devoid of loophole
That drains the blood from body
And sucks the life from soul
A day without injections
And a day without a tour
To those red crossed hospitals
Monthly; and bi-weekly soon
Before the day of judgement
But my soul yearns to say
To that every different donor
My life saving loner
Who helps the mankind
Will my heart say HELLO!

 

– Pratibha Lohiya

MAKING FRIENDS

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One of my friends used to say, ‘Everyone, when they grow up is remembered by something that they did in their college days- something that identifies them even decades later.’ For me, I would gladly like to be remembered by BloodConnect.

After spending over two years in this organisation as I look back to find the little circle of friends I have made, I am appalled by the way I have learned to see things. Being an ‘IITian’, I was almost always convinced that I was the smartest of the lot anywhere. Come to BloodConnect, and I see (to my dismay) that there are people who know so much more than me, have a better understanding of things, and are often- more emotionally intelligent, a trait which I have found plays a role equal to, if not greater than IQ.

As I settled into this atmosphere of kids who stepped up the latest fashion, expressed strong opinions about social causes, and took to the streets raising a voice, or just simply having fun, I was awed by the perseverance with which they pursued their ideas. They seemed intelligent, passionate, and creative. This atmosphere flowed around me like water around a rock. I was not really changed by it, but some of it stuck with me.

Meanwhile in the process, I managed to make some pretty good friends. As is often with friends, it was a gradual and natural process. I never really thought about it, and I made no special effort on my part. But we just sort of, fit together. Us, trying to find our way through life’s many mazes, and with our shared vision. Trying to figure out a way to make things work, travelling through the city, and often brainstorming together.

When I was first inducted into BloodConnect, I was told by one of my seniors that two of the many people he met through BloodConnect went on to become his best friends. How that could be possible, given that we spend so much more time with people from our own colleges, defeated me. It took me few years, but I get it now. I have come to believe that the friends we make through the times of stress and pressure are the ones who really stick with us. It does not matter who you spend the most time with, what does matter is the sense of belonging that you get when you are with them.

When a person is under pressure, they exhibit traits that are not seen otherwise. When they are pressed for resources, when they are asked to go out of their way to do someone a favour-is when you see what they are worth. How a person treats his juniors, how he handles crisis situations- says a lot about what they are like in actual life. I suppose this is why friendships forged in BloodConnect stay for so long. You’ve seen people when things are down and out, and you know that they will always have a solution to the myriad of problems that life offers.

With BloodConnect spanning over so many institutes in so many cities, I have met a lot of people in my two years here. Given BloodConnect’s corporate structure of working, I have had to interact with many of them in a purely professional capacity. As we all might be painfully aware, some of these people we wish to restrict just to their professional roles. But some of them strike a chord with our hearts. Without realising it, meetings turn to get togethers, con calls turn to bouts of laughter (and sometimes crying) and work turns into fun– which is what I believe a voluntary organisation like BloodConnect should work on anyway. In the end, after all, what stays with you is the family you made. I like to call these people my BloodConnect family- because I know they will stay with me throughout, and stick up for me even when I am wrong (then reprimand me in private).

I suppose that in every aspect of life, things can get really tough without friends. Because in the end, it is all about enjoying the process. And while yes, I too derive a sense of satisfaction out of my work, my work cannot make me laugh until my stomach hurts, or give me a shoulder to cry on when I am heart broken. No, only real people can do that. It takes different people different amounts of time to realise this fact. Being a reserved person myself, I took my own time to make friends. But I am glad they found me.

All through the camps, the awareness sessions in college, waking up at six in the morning for Raahgiri, working together-our bonds flourished. The BloodConnect Annual Event, when some big names (Kanan Gill, Nikhil D’Souza, Parikrama to name a few) came to perform for us each year usually serve as a reminder to us, that we deserve an after party, for all our work over the past year. This is when city teams from all over the country come in, and we get to see how big we are. It is amazing to see, that we are such a large team that works so gracefully together. For me personally, that is the part of it all that awes me the most: How a team of hundreds of people works together to make a system, and it is all purely voluntary.

Even if I am not able to contribute much to BloodConnect, I will always know that it has given me some things that I could not possibly explain in terms of the ways we are accustomed to measuring things- few years of memories and experience, and a lifetime of friendship.

– Ruchi Churiwala

IIT DELHI

BloodConnect Survival: 101

Firstly, congratulations, everyone! We had an absolutely phenomenal term. I hope your work made you happy and that you’ll be continuing in the next term too.

As a person, I tend to overestimate myself. Always. I believe I can do anything and everything (which doesn’t work sometimes). And, I’ve extended that attitude to this article. I guess I’m somewhat qualified to give you some advice or ‘fundae’, as our beloved IITians call it, I’ve still gone ahead and written something which might be absolute trash and might be invaluable. That, buddy, depends on you. Now that I have shifted the onus to you, let me start: 

#1. You know what they say- once you’re in, you’re in. There’s no escaping. But well, you wouldn’t want to escape. You might leave BloodConnect, but BloodConnect will never leave you (we have vampire-like tendencies :P)

#2. You’re doing the real thing. Do your work as though no one could do it any better (I was actually convinced for the most part that no one could do my work better). You come with your own idiosyncrasies, hopes and fears. You’re you, do what you do best.

#3. Don’t take yourself or others too seriously. No one knows what they’re doing; they’re just doing it… well. 

#4. A good sense of humour isn’t very common. Keep everything as light as possible. 

#5. Listen to what your seniors have to say, it’s respectful. Whether you want to do it or not depends on you. 

#6. Never be afraid to speak your mind out. Everyone is waiting to hear what you have to say. Be courteous. Try not to be rude- everyone’s working just as hard as you are. 

#7. Don’t let power get into your head. Stay grounded; we all have a common goal. 

#8. Try to make friends. They’ll make everything easier for you. You’ll have a lot more fun when they’re around. BloodConnect has seen some deep and historical friendships. 😛 

Also, they can run errands for you! 

#9. One day at a time (when things get too much, which can be often).

#10. Help will always be given to those who ask for it, much like Hogwarts!

#11. You might get frustrated, might feel resigned due to lack of response, but don’t worry, everything comes around eventually. That my friend, is the secret to not just BloodConnect survival, but life in general. 

#12. First understand and then try to be understood (Thank you, Mr. Covey). 

#13. Helplines, Camps, Awareness Sessions are just like water in your diet. Essential for survival, but often forgotten. 

#14. There is such a thing as free lunch (my budding economists, please take note!). Do join for all the treats, lunches which are on BloodConnect. 

#15. Your gut is mostly right. 

#16. Everyone’s here for you. Always

From Them to Us

I walk the eternal road
To go to a never ending ride.
The sun gazes down to ask
Did you ever spread light?
The falling leaves block my way to question
My presence, of giving anyone a relief sight?
The river tears down my eardrums
Making a humongous noise
To interrogate
Did I ever assist someone’s heart to ignite?
I look back
And humbly smile
And smile
And smile
And continue my never – ending ride!

By Pratibha Lohiya

WHY SHOULD I?

From the day I was born

Up to my youth’s thrill

Just one thing has kept me on

“Why should I?  Others will”

 

On the road I’ve seen the begging child

Whose single glance reminds of all my bills

His pleading eyes drive me wild

But I say “why should I? Others will”

 

Not a few steps ahead, I have seen

A young boy like me, lying still

With a pool of blood and people watching keen

But I say “why should I? Others will”

 

Not far, I usually see hungry homeless people

Bound to the road, unaware of heat & chill

Even imagining their life’s roughness isn’t simple

But I move on –“why should I? Others will”

One day, through that daily dump as I rode

A car thrashed me searching its daily kill

Because that day was my turn to lie on the road

The frightened me thought- “Now who will?”

 

Lying dead, I screamed with eyes looking up

But what happened next made my eyes fill

A young boy like me came close, held me up

And said-“If not me, who will!”

 

His words pierced my heart like a knife

Destroyed my mind’s coward and selfish hill

That day a new turn came in my life

Because finally I realized- “If not me, then no one will”

 

For how long will we neglect our responsibility

And put the burden on others to do the social drills

It’s the high time to change our mentality

And say with a determined voice- “Yes, I will…I will…”

 – Aakash Ravgotra, IIT ROPAR

 

 

 

 

To the ones who help us through life

If there ever were a competition for the Most Appropriate Title, this one wouldn’t even get through the entries. You wouldn’t expect anyone to write this for a ‘work anniversary’ as LinkedIn (ever so kindly) reminds me. But somehow, I managed to rig the competition to my favour and oddly enough, this seems to be perfect for My two years in BloodConnect.

Do note the personalisation, I say My.

My, because it’s become such an important part of me as a person (mind you; I’ll say I’m not ‘just’ a person but a force to be reckoned with) with a weird spelling (girl or a guy?) called Cearet.

My, because you never know what you chance upon. And sometimes, if you’re lucky enough, you’ll find what is exactly right for you. You’ll feel as though you were made for this. And my chance was BloodConnect’s volunteer application.

My, because, a home (away from home) is such a simple concept but sometimes, people spend their entire lifetimes looking for their familiar and happy place. When you feel a sense of belongingness to someone or to some thing, embrace it. And remember: nothing good ever goes away. This good thing will always stay with me.

My, because when you love the work you do (it still feels like work :P), there’s nothing that can compare with that feeling. When you’re passionate, your eyes light up and in that moment, that spark seemingly lasts forever. You’ll do all you can, you’ll give it your everything and even then you’ll wonder what more you can give. I hope you never lose your sense of wonder (much like Lee Ann).

My, because you need people who’ll tell you when you’re being a jerk but who’ll also tell you that you’re downright amazing. They’ll say mean things to you but never (ever) behind your back. Their honesty will be cringe-worthy, their feedbacks would be worse than onions. Take it all in. It’ll make you a better person and a better volunteer. There will be days when you wouldn’t want to work; go to these people, they’ll turn it all around for you. Attend camps with them, attend GBMs with them and slowly but surely, they’ll become like those flies at the edge of the windshield where the wipers don't reach and who always remain. Go, meet those flies.

Here’s to the things/people/feelings/whatever you might want to call it that are essential to your being and who’ll help you through life.

Remember, make this time your own. And come back here, I promise to listen to all your stories with the same love and enthusiasm as I am telling you mine.

Why you need to be at IIT Delhi on 6th August

You. Yes, you.

You need to be at  IIT Delhi on 6th August at 6pm. Join BloodConnect as we celebrate our sixth anniversary in the grandest ceremony you have ever been a part of.

Keep up till the end. You will NOT be disappointed.

Eye catching performances

Hansraj College’s Terpsi Chorean will present a dance number.

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 Eye openers

A special performance by the children of the National Thalassemic Welfare Society, to show you how talent and endeavour can cross all hurdles.

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NIKHIL D’SOUZA

Yes I had to put that in Caps. Because, duh!

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If concerts are your kinda thing, this is the place to be this Saturday. No doubt about it.

Opportunity to register with the team of BloodConnect

Come meet the team of BloodConnect and see how we work. If the cause to work for society does not let you sleep in the night, and you want to work with us- register yourself at the Annual Event.

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Perks of Donating Blood

A spider bite might not transform you into a superhero, but a small needle prick and a fifteen minutes by your watch sure can. Yes, by donating blood once you’ll be saving up to three human lives. Isn’t the “I’m the saviour” sash awesome?

Oh wait, here is even more awesome news: not only is donating blood extremely beneficial to those on the receiving end, it also has proven benefits to the person donating blood. Here are some of the benefits you gain for your humanitarian efforts.

 

  • The ultimate joy.

 

Close your eyes and think of a situation when you feel everything is collapsing, your hopes are diminishing and you have nothing to cling to.. Suddenly an angel comes into your life to lighten your hopes, to take you back into the sunshine. How does it feel? Amazing, no?

Amplify this feeling now, because the joy of saving a single life is indescribable.

Try it, once!

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  • Get a free mini-checkup!

 

Before blood donation, your body is scanned of all possible risks. The mini-physical prior will check your pulse rate, blood pressure, haemoglobin level, platelets count, body temperature and more. Hence, this will shed light on the issues that you are unaware of.

Highlight, that this bonus comes FREEEE!

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  • Au revoir to cardiovascular problems.

 

Regular blood donations keeps an eye on the levels of iron. Though, iron is an essential element for the proper functioning of the body, excess can result to excessive oxidative damage. This means, blood donation can arrest the culprit behind heart attacks, cancer, accelerated ageing and strokes.

Pretty cool, huh?

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  • Calories… check; burn; done!

 

One blood donation equals 650 Kcal fired. Since, one can donate only four times in an year which means 2600 kcal yearly.

Whoaa! I’m impressed, I confess.

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  • Easy blood flow.

 

Do you know what a high-sugar diet, smoking, radio frequencies, and other toxic electromagnetic forces, emotional stress, anxiety, high cholesterol, and high uric acid levels do to your blood?

All of these make your blood hypercoagulable, meaning it makes it thick, viscous and thereby exposes the risk of arterial blockages, clots, inflammation etc.

This is where repeated blood donations come to rescue. It helps your blood to flow better, possibly limiting the damage.

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So, what’s the wait now? As soon as you turn eighteen, you are all set to go!

BE AWARE FROM THE RARE

“It’s not just the blessings but even curse that come in disguise”, I heard an old woman lamenting on the streets of Palampur village. When I approached her to find out the matter, I found her saying, “I lost my young daughter recently who was suffering from some rare blood disease”. Little did the woman know about the cause of her young lady’s death. So after all this when I looked around, I found myself surrounded by a crowd of curious faces, enjoying the scene but doing nothing to help the old mother.

When I questioned the people about the disease, they started making alien faces. I decided to look into the medical files of the dead young daughter to stop the clouds of curiosity swirling in my head and to explain the reason of death of a daughter to her mother.

So, I found that she was suffering from MYELODISPLASTIC SYNDROME, known as MDS or mylodisplasia which is a blood related medical condition related to ineffective production of blood cells . Patients suffering from MDS, suffer from anaemia and require blood transfusions. To know more about it, I turned to the internet. There I found that MDS is listed as a “rare disease” by the Office Of Rare Disease [ORD] of of the National Institutes of Health [NIH]. Orphanet, a consortium European partners currently defines a condition ‘rare’ when it affects 1 person per 2000. I told her that MDS is a type of cancer where the bone marrow does not make enough healthy red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets and there are abnormal blast cells in the blood or in the bone marrow. In an MDS patient, the immature blood cells die either in the blood or in the bone marrow. So with a few blood cells the body is prone to anemia, infections and easy bleeding.

After telling her all this, I saw the empty eyes of the old woman asking me the cause of such a disease. I further told her that use of certain chemotherapy drugs for cancer plays a role in later development of MDS cases. Some inherited conditions like Fanconi Anaemia where bone marrow fails to make blood cells, Shwachman – Diamond Syndrome which keeps bone marrow from making white blood cells and exposure to certain industrial chemicals are the causes of MDS. Smoking also increases the risk of MDS. Listening to all this, the mother replied that her daughter never smoked but it was her grandmother who happened to be suffering from cancer in her times. And so, inheritance was the cause of MDS in her daughter. The old lady further told me that her daughter suffered from anaemia, unusual bleeding, fatigue, bruises and red marks under her skin which all were the symptoms of this rare disease. She further told that samples of blood, bone marrow was taken for the diagnosis, physical checkup was also done but it was too late. With tears in her eyes, I do not know why the woman asked that how could her daughter have been treated, if the diagnosis was done timely.

Looking over the net, I told her that chemotherapy drugs which is even used to treat leukaemia, growth factors encouraging bone marrow, blood transfusion, antibiotics and on top of it stem cells transplant – could have been the only treatment capable of curing MSD through which new stem cell start producing new blood cells in the body .

Listening to all this, the woman suddenly stood up with vigour and vowed to start a campaign to raise awareness for Myelodisplastic Syndrome, blood donation and bone marrow donation so that no other mother would ever lose her daughter because of this. Thus, awareness gave a new motive to a hopeless and deeply crushed old woman.

We must also be aware from not just prevalent diseases but also from the rare ones because PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE.

Orlando: Where did we go wrong?

In a recent appalling incident 49 people were shot dead, and 53 wounded in a shooting that took place in Pulse, a club in Orlando.

The rise of gun violence in the United States is common knowledge. Quite disturbingly, there have been recent incidences in Panaroma City and New Mexico. But what makes this incident different from the rest is probably the fact that Pulse is a gay club.

The killer was Omar Mateen, a man known to be sympathetic to jihadi sentiments. However he does not seem to be directly affiliated to the ISIS or any other terrorist group. Routine background checks (which included psychological evaluations) by G4S, the security company he worked for, did not reveal any tangible information that might have been predictive of his actions.

However his internet search history has shown that he consumed a lot of propaganda. He seems to have been influenced to quite an extent by jihadist sentiments.

This shooting was in fact, a demonstration of an effort by a radical person to ‘cleanse’ out the community. And this is in a country where gay marriages are legal in all states.

Maybe it is time we looked at how tolerant we, the people of the world, are.

In a country like India, where homosexuality is banned by law, questions asking if homosexuality is ‘right’ or ‘natural’ are still debatable to many.

However, the more important thing here is not whether the people who were shot were ‘justified’ in their sexual orientations or not, but if such extreme actions are warranted on anyone’s part towards people who do things that they deem dishonorable.

There are seven billion people in this world. To expect everyone to accept, or even understand the rationality of our arguments is in fact, at its very base a flawed idea. As citizens of this nation, and of this world, the sooner we make our peace with this the better.

When we talk to people, when we listen to them, it opens our minds to broader avenues. We develop as individuals, we become capable of thinking differently. We do not have to ingrain their beliefs or think that we are wrong. Just listen. Nod our heads. We will become more intelligent.

Unfortunately for us, our intolerance affects us more than anyone else. There is only so much of the world we can change to suit our mindset, and we will have to live with the rest of it in pain. And that pain can be excruciating for some of us, so much so that we might end up doing things like the ones that led up to the events that transpired on that fateful night.

Omar Mateen was no extraordinary man. He worked as a security guard in Florida. He was driven by homophobia, he had access to a gun and he thought he was fit enough to decide the fate of those people in the club. If he had been more tolerant, the people who died that night would have lived. He would have lived.

Around the world, the incident has garnered widespread support.

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A vigil was held at Los Angeles City Hall on Monday. CreditMonica Almeida/The New York Times

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Eiffel Tower lit up in the rainbow colours

The world has gathered to show its support to Orlando victims and their families. People in Orlando are rallying to donate blood for the victims. The turnout for blood drives has been so big, traffic is snarled in several areas, and OneBlood (https://www.oneblood.org/) had to start turning donors away because it ran out of supplies. People were parking on the grass and sidewalk to get in line. Others walked through the crowds, passing out water, bagels, sunscreen and Gatorade.

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POTUS Barack Obama has petitioned to put an end to gun violence. It is time we are more tolerant, more accepting of the fact that not everyone in the world is going to see things our way; and simply killing them is not the way to go about it.

There has been a lot of debate going around the world as to whether this was an act of ‘terrorism’ or if Mateen had mental health issues. In either case, Mateen the Terrorist or Mateen the Mental Health Patient had a hard time accepting an idea.

Let us be more loving, more vocal, and put our words where our weapons are. After all, the pen is mightier than the sword.