In a world that is increasingly getting polluted and where lifestyle habits are causing life-threatening diseases at an early age, it is not entirely surprising to read that India records 10,000 new cases of cancer in kids every year. What shocks and saddens, though, is the news that cure rates in India are as low as 20 per cent, compared to 80 per cent in developed countries. Worse, this has less to do with lack of scientific progress and a lot more to do with socio economic conditions of patients and malnutrition.
“Can you imagine running a marathon when you have been fasting for the last few days? Similarly, kids cannot take rigorous treatment like chemotherapy when they are malnourished. They need proper nutrition to be able to assimilate the medicines. In the absence of the same, children can get sicker or even die. A large percentage of underprivileged kids have to pause or abandon chemotherapy because they don’t get proper nutrition,” laments Purnota Dutta Bahl, the CEO and founder of the recently launched Cuddles Foundation that works with some of the city’s leading hospitals to help cancer-afflicted children get proper nutrition so that they can withstand chemo sessions.
And this Diwali, the startup NGO has hit upon a novel plan to raise funds to make sure many more little lives are saved in the days to come. Diwali, says Bahl, is a time when affluent Indians across the country spend thousands, often lakhs on buying gold, new clothes, cars and even houses. Gambling for several thousand rupees is also popular in many households. She has a simple request: “Take out a small percentage of what you would have spent and spend it instead for a good cause which will light up your Diwali anyway.”
Within months of launching the initiative, Cuddles Foundation today works with the likes of the Tata Memorial Hospital and Sion Hospital to raise money and provide nutritional and hygiene products, counselors and third party specialists to children suffering from cancer.
For those who are unsure if the money is really reaching the children, Bahl spells out five alternative ways of helping directly. “Instead of buying expensive gifts for a friend, donate on behalf of your friends. Gift the friend the donation receipt and see the happiness on their face. Children also respond to treatment if they are happy. So why not buy an inexpensive toy — a car or a doll or colour books and donate it to Cuddles?
Or buy protein supplements and hand it over to a child’s parents.
“Of course, children always need clothes. If you don’t want to buy a new one, get the local tailor to work on your old cotton saree to create a new skirt maybe? And finally, if all this is too much work, simply write a cheque in favour of Cuddles Foundation,” she smiles.
Cheques and donations can be made in the name of “Cuddles Foundation”. To know more email firstname.lastname@example.org. Call Purnota Bahl on 9833479990 or Neeraj Agarwala on 9820144414.