Summer of content: Students serve cancer survivors, raise funds (Health Feature)

New Delhi, June 29 (IANS) Meher and Mansi, Class 11 students of a Delhi school, have forgone their leisure trips this summer vacation. Unlike most of their peers, they braved the capital’s heat and volunteered to serve cancer survivors and patients for what they called an experience that has given them a sense of great accomplishment.

Full of empathy for kids of their age who have overcome the deadly disease, the two are part of a group of volunteers who have offered succour to cancer survivors and taken a lead in planning a dance and drama concert to raise funds for an NGO working for children with cancer.

“We are honouring the cancer survivors because their bravery, courage and spirit needs to be recognised and lauded,” said Mansi.

The two students of Delhi Public School, in south Delhi’s R.K. Puram, joined cancer survivors from KidsCan Konnect – a group promoted by NGO CanKids – to plan a concert featuring a rap session, a street play and screening of documentary on the life of a survivor made by voulunteers like them.

Meher told IANS: “We have our own creative group in DPS R.K.Puram – Expressions. It has been a real privilege to put together a performance for the cause and for the survivors.”

“We are helping KidsCan Konnect to raise funds, as we learnt that they are doing such fantastic work to give back and to be true cancer ambassadors,” she said.

Nearly 30 young volunteers, mostly school and college students and some cancer survivors, tied up with CanKids to spend four-five hours daily for “meaningful purposes” during May-June.

“Saving money was one big lesson we learnt. On the one hand people like us spend so much money for pampering ourselves; on the other, there are kids with cancer who are dying because they do not have money for treatment,” said Mansi.

Chandan Kumar, 18, who fought blood cancer at the age of 13, now serves as a volunteer as part of KidsCan Konnect – also known as a group of childhood cancer ambassadors.

“I joined them as I realised the importance of helping children who are going through the same trouble and pain as we did,” said the resident of south Delhi, who prepares modules for spreading awareness among patients and society.

Zenia Taluja, a student of Hindu College, created a “Spare a Penny” campaign to raise one rupee at a time from people in her colony.

“What I am learning as a volunteer is love, respect, humanity, selflessness and dedicating my services for the welfare of society,” she said.

Akram Bagai from British School and Vidushri Singhal from Welhams Dehradun, both 16, have composed a song and made an animated powerpoint presentation for children with cancer who attend workshops at hospitals like the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, where they undergo treatment.

A group of volunteers even managed to engage partners for their concert and raise funds for cancer-afflicted children.

Among those whom they engaged for the cause is Rajiv Malhotra, executive director and chief risk officer of PTC India Ltd., a power-trading solutions provider. “We are supporting the cause…we think this is our way of empowering cancer survivors.”

Cankids chairman Poonam Bagai, who mentors the summer internship programme, said: “We love the enthusiasm, creativity and energy of youth.”

“They learn to understand the cause and feel the emotions of families of children with cancer. It gives them an opportunity to understand how NGOs work and the challenges we face,” Bagai, herself a cancer survivor, told IANS.

“We give them projects that involve creating campaigns, building awareness, research, marketing, branding, communications, fund raising and resource mobilization,” she added.

(Rahul Chhabra can be contacted at [email protected])

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