Service or a Habit?

18597096_1333898676700959_690664559_o.jpgSeptember 4th 2014. It was this date that marked my first Blood Donation experience, at St. Stephen’s College (my first semester in college). I asked myself why? Why should I do it? The thought process answered like “Hey! This is something I have not done. Let me try my hand at it.” I did not feel that I did something noble. But, just to show everyone that I did something so good which was in the world’s definition of noble – I posted on Facebook, “So, listen, people, I donated for the first time.” But, then I asked myself another question, “Was I satisfied?”

I have been associated with BloodConnect since March 2015. My intention of joining the organization had nothing to do with “service to the society or giving back to the society”. It was not even to fulfill the lack of satisfaction that I felt a few months back. I joined the organization so that I could do something which I hadn’t done yet. It made me think, ‘Am I the only one who is so insensitive or am I thinking too much about this?’. Though this thought never left the back of my mind, my journey with BloodConnect started.

The only sort of satisfaction that I ever got was when the requester called and thanked me for the help. Of all the times that I have donated, not even once did I feel this sense of fulfillment. The same thought, then I realised, was going through my head – was I that insensitive? What was the point of donating? Why did I do it?

In our 5th semester, we had an assignment to present a paper or a PowerPoint as part of the internal assessment. Being a Chemistry student, we had the liberty to present on any topic related to the subject. I was delaying my turn for weeks as I had no topic in mind to present. Eventually, I had no option but to present. I decided to present on the science behind blood donation. I started with the presentation. Within 5 minutes I realized I would not be able to tell much about the science behind blood donation so, I decided to stick to the known territory. For, the next 20 minutes I went on telling them about BloodConnect, the achievements till date, the vision that we have as an organization, the environment in which we work and so on. At the end of the presentation, I ended by telling them about an incident where I helped a person who required platelets for her sister. After listening to the incident everyone started clapping. Listening to the entire class clap made the same thought go through my head again.
Did I donate so that I could see my batch mates clap for me when I tell them about the incident? Why did I do it? 50 odd people appreciating me did not give me any sort of satisfaction. Rather I felt even more dissatisfied. Why? They were clapping because for them, my going and donating was an act of kindness, an act of humanity, an act of service. That was not the point of donating. It was not an act of kindness. Someone who was in need was saved, that was a consequence of my action. It was not the primary motive. Basically, they missed the entire point of the presentation. Rather, I was not able to convey the point. The presentation was supposed to encourage people to donate blood voluntarily, and I don’t think I was able to motivate anyone to do that.

Now, in my head, I was imagining the following situation. The moment they started clapping I wanted to tell them that this is not something to be proud of. Point being, this is not an achievement. How many of you go for walks every day or for playing a sport or listen to music to relax or do whatever to keep yourselves healthy? I feel every one. Now, when you do that, do you pat yourselves on the back and say that good job buddy, you did something good today, you performed a noble deed, you should be proud of yourself? I guess no one does that. Then why do you think donating is a noble cause, an achievement?

Why do I endorse this thought? Even if someone that day was motivated to donate blood, the whole reason for them doing so would be, “he did such a beautiful thing by helping out those people, such a noble deed, even I want to do that”. Though this is a good start but this is not the point. The reason is that, the moment the person donates he/she will get that satisfaction, the feeling of achievement and once you get that it will not motivate you to do it again. Once the person gets that feeling of achievement, nothing will motivate them to repeat it. Now, such people will donate again only if there is an utmost emergency. This just does not serve the purpose of the organization. My point is, voluntary blood donation should not be portrayed as an achievement but as a habit. Just as every day, we get up and do some sort of activity to keep ourselves healthy, we should get up once every three and a half to four months and donate. Now, there is no need for me to go on about the benefits of blood donation and the myths and the misconceptions regarding the same, all of us can go to our website and read them.

This should be the reason for which we should work as a team in BloodConnect. We should work towards making people understand that Voluntary Blood Donation should be made a habit. The sense of achievement should be considered as a secondary goal, something that comes afterwards. The moment all of us realize this and start working towards this, we will be able to solve the problem better. Not that we are not solving it right now. But, we can always seek improvement. And that is the kind of satisfaction I am trying to achieve.

– Glaison Cherian