Depending on the Kindness of Strangers

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The benevolence of strangers have time and again helped hapless people. Rita tells us about ‘crowdsourcing’ and ‘crowdfunding’ and how these have become a way for people to give a boost to charitable causes and social campaigns. She cites three case studies. First, Arian Chowdhury, a 12-year- old boy suffering from Hunter Syndrome, a rare lysosomal storage disorder. Second, 6-year- old Antara Ganai was with Chronic Myeloid bright, friendly 10-year- old girl, was the victim of a road accident. Her right shin bone is seriously damaged. The doctor recommended that she undergo Plastic Surgery to save her leg. Medical care was beyond the modest means of all three of them. Social media and crowdfunding was their panacea. Here’s a report, in the weekly column, exclusively for Different Truths.

You probably come across the terms, ‘crowdsourcing’ and ‘crowdfunding’ quite a lot these days. They have become a popular way for people to give a boost to charitable causes and social campaigns.

Crowdfunding and Crowdsourcing

Crowdfunding is a method of raising capital through the collective effort of friends, family, customers, and investors. This approach taps into the collective efforts of a large pool of individuals — primarily online via social media and crowdfunding platforms — and leverages their networks for greater reach and exposure. It often works in tandem with crowdsourcing, which is the practice of gathering funds, ideas and skills that a large number of people contribute through the worldwide web. Many non-profit organisations, including Mission Arogya (missionarogya.org) are turning to crowdsourcing and crowdfunding to bring positive social changes.

How Arian Chowdhury won against Hunter Syndrome

One of the earlier incidents where crowdsourcing played an important role was in the case of Arian Chowdhury, a 12-year- old boy suffering from Hunter Syndrome, a rare lysosomal storage disorder. Elaprase, the only drug to treat this condition, is a form of enzyme replacement therapy and needs to be given every week. The treatment costs a staggering INR 3-4 lakh per week. American drug manufacturer Shire that produces Elaprase agreed to provide treatment to Arian free of cost for the rest of his life.

Initially, the picture was not so optimistic. In spite of repeated discussions with Shire by Arian’s father and non-profit volunteers, Arian’s case came to light only after an intensive social media engagement, resulting in over one lakh signatures being achieved through an online petition on change.org in June 2014. A subsequent meeting with the then Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan, who promised to help Arian help, gave a boost to his chances of getting treatment.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/us- firm-to- provide-free- drugs-to- indian--kid-with- hunter-syndrome/

Helping Antara Ganai vanquish Leukemia

Another crowdfunding case with a positive outcome was for 6-year- old Antara Ganai. She was diagnosed with Chronic Myloid Leukemia last year and treated at , Chennai. The doctors were of the opinion that she could be cured with a Bone Marrow Transplant and fortunately for her, a matching donor was also found.

The only deterrent was the cost of the treatment at Apollo, Chennai, which was estimated at Rs. 25 lacs. With other incidental expenditures like travel and staying in Chennai during the procedure, the cost would be even more daunting. Antara’s family of four lives at Village Tenya, in Murshidabad district, West Bengal, and their only source of income is the income from her father Ashim Kumar Ganai’s business of photocopying and printing of documents and photos at his shop in the village. The family’s annual income was just about INR 48,000 and the total cost of treatment was way beyond his means.

 

Antara’s and her uncle, Tinku Ganai, however, intend to tap into all possible  in their attempt to cure her. With the help of a support group in Kolkata, they posted about Antara on the crowdfunding platform, Milaap (www.milaap.org) raised a considerable amount for her treatment.

As of today, Antara’s Bone Marrow Transplant procedure is completed and it’s successful. Though she is still suffering occasional fevers, stomach ache and vomiting, she is doing well, according to the doctors at Apollo, Chennai. Her family and friends are praying for her to be back home, completely cured, soon. She can still benefit from your generosity and you can contribute on milaap to make her homecoming smoother.

https://milaap.org/fundraisers/AntaraGanai

Lending a helping hand so Priya Banerjee doesn’t lose her leg 

Priya Banerjee, a bright, friendly 10-year- old girl, was the victim of a road accident along with her mother, on November 23, 2016. A bus, while overtaking another, ran over their feet.

Priya Banerjee, a bright, friendly 10-year- old girl, was the victim of a road accident along with her mother, on November 23, 2016. A bus, while overtaking another, ran over their feet.

Her mother is now almost out of danger but Priya’s right shin bone is seriously damaged. They received primary treatment in NRS Medical College, but the doctor recommended that she undergo Plastic Surgery to save her leg. Her mother, though out of danger, will need a plate in her leg before she can resume a normal life and thus, will be out of her livelihood for the next 3-4 months, at least.

Priya’s mother works as domestic help in several households in Kolkata’s Beliaghata locality. Her father died last year. They stay in a nearby slum area and travel to Beliaghata every day at around 6am in the morning. Priya accompanies her mother, carrying her school books, school dress and a spare dress in a bag. After a long hard day at work, they return home late in the evening. Right after the accident, Priya’s mother lost consciousness, but Priya was alert despite the blinding pain and she pleaded with the police, “Please take us to the hospital. Please take my mother’s purse along or else we will starve.”

Your help can mean the difference between Priya losing her leg or returning home as a vibrant, active , the way she always was, despite financial hardships. You can help her on milaap at https://milaap.org/fundraisers/helppriya

©Rita Bhattacharjee

Photos by Tinku Ganai, Sudipta Betal, Papia Roy and Indian Express.

Rita Bhattacharjee

Rita Bhattacharjee

Rita Bhattacharjee is a communications consultant with extensive experience in managing corporate and internal communications for companies across diverse industries, including non-profit organizations. She is the co-founder of Mission Arogya and Arogya HomeCare and has recently relocated from the US to India to channel her skills towards social entrepreneurship to increase awareness and reduce disparity in public health.She also writes poetry, some of which have been published in reputed international journals.
Rita Bhattacharjee
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