, ,

You see before you a room full of children of different ages. They all seem to be so immersed in what they are doing. Their faces speak of their enjoyment. Some of them giggle as they play, others are engrossed in coloring their activity books, while some are totally absorbed in reading their books, their bright eyes hungrily devouring the  pages.

The scene is one you would see almost everywhere, you might say. In any school or activity center for kids. You are only partly right. Closer scrutiny shows you that without exception, all these children have two things in common. One of them is visually very evident . All of them have their heads shaved off. The other is more subtle and cannot be immediately made out as they so enthusiastically read and play. The location of course tells you why these children are special. They are amongst the 60,000 children afflicted with cancer, a disease which affects 10 to 12 children out of 10,000 population in India every year. We are in the children’s ward at the Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology in Bangalore with volunteers from the Samiksha Foundation: Caring For Children With Cancer.

Sandhya Sharad the energetic Founder of Samiksha and Dr. Manjari Bhatnagar, the equally committed Director, share their infectious enthusiasm for their work. Their Foundation is a creative learning initiative for children with cancer and their care givers. “We provide,” says Sandhya, “educational and spiritual support along with creative play and activities.” By training she is an architect and interior designer but this passion to support children afflicted with cancer has given new meaning to her life and indeed to many who have come in contact with Samiksha’s activities.

The best way to see what Samiksha does for these children is for you to volunteer and join them in their on-going effort to mitigate, in however small a way, the suffering of less fortunate children. They aim, in their own words, to bring joy to the children and their care givers. They say, “Our strong belief at the Centre is that one can always do something to improve the situation for the children with cancer and their families outside the formal medical atmosphere. Irrespective of getting an ideal solution, one can make a real difference, by improving their lifestyles or helping the families maintain a quality of life and giving them hope for the future. The ultimate aim is to increase the happiness quotient of those affected by cancer and such life threatening diseases, notwithstanding their circumstances.” Here’s how you can volunteer to help.

As you can imagine, Samiksha could do with sponsors to carry out their goals for the immediate future. Here’s how you can contribute as a sponsor.

Before you leave, irrespective of where you are and what you do, I would urge you to see this short documentary on what Samiksha has been doing for the last four years. Isn’t it very inspiring? I hasten to echo what Samiksha says, and says so well : “We ask that you respect the purpose of the mission and the privacy of the families in the documentary, and do not use content from this film for personal purposes or advertisement.”

If you want to help increase the “happiness quotient” of these children and associate yourself with the Samiksha Foundation in some meaningful way, here are their contact details. You will find interacting with Sandhya Sharad and Dr. Manjari Bhatnagar well worth your while.

And, guess what? In increasing the “happiness quotient” of those less fortunate than you, especially when they are children with cancer, the joy you derive cannot be described. It has to be experienced.

This post is submitted to the ISB iDiya Blogging Contest.