Awareness around blood donation in our country is shamefully less, making it a pressing concern for doctors, administration, and everyone else. Despite being a highly-populated country with 1.4 billion people, India faces an average blood shortage of three million units every year.
Clearly, we can bring down the number of deaths if we raise awareness around blood donations and encourage them to lend life. Thankfully, we have Kunal Saraff doing exactly that. The self-starter man has the answer to India’s blood crisis.
Dark clouds and silver lining
After graduating from a Delhi college in 2014, K Saraff (popularly known) returned to his hometown Kolkata. There he had to see his maternal grandfather meet with an accident. He needed a few units of B positive blood, the most common blood group, but even after their frantic tries nothing worked out. In the end, someone from the family made the donation.
The incident gave Kunal sleepless nights leading to a decision, an initiative. He did not want anyone to suffer the same fate as his grandfather. In August 2014, that 21-year-old founded The Saviours, an NGO for people in need of blood donations in urgent situations.
The organization focuses on voluntary blood donations and aims to eradicate the problem of blood shortage in India. Initially, Kunal would arrange for blood donors via Facebook pages or phone calls. But as time passed, he started tying-up with hospitals to increase the number of volunteers.
Kunal started his organization with 10 emergency donors and today, more than 30,000 people are registered as blood donors across the country. This is a good enough number to create an impact, initiate a movement, but most importantly to save hundreds of lives. They have also created an extensive, three week-long internship program, especially for college students, to spread awareness around the great Indian blood crisis.
Zero donation organization
However, journey till now was not very easy for Kunal. Despite working for a noble, humanitarian cause, The Saviours has not received a single rupee as donation till date. Every month, the volunteers carry out four to five events and the funds are raised from the team members themselves.
“Many people join just for the certificate, which makes it harder to execute things,” Kunal tells KenFolios.
This three-year-old NGO now has a core team of 11 members. They have collected 1,200 units of blood only through blood camps, saving life of more than 3,600 people. Today, The Saviours serves in four cities viz. Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi, and Bengaluru.
Cheers to the hero
Currently, Kunal is working on a model that will allow donors to contribute Rs 300 per month for a year; and in return they would receive a certificate for being a part of such a distinguished organization. He affirms that there are three reasons why India, despite being such a massively populated country, faces shortage of blood.
“Failure to manage blood storage, existence of black market and obviously the lack of awareness and extreme fear. People are often sceptical regarding donating blood because they feel that they would lose their vitality if they do so,” he says.
Kunal believes that once people change their mindset and scepticism, India would easily overcome the other two factors. In future, Kunal wishes to have a chapter of The Saviours in every college curriculum under the guidance of a teacher who can implement humanitarian activities in their area and help the nation prosper.
This, in turn, will have a massive impact on his endeavour and could possibly eradicate the problem of blood shortage in India in a shorter amount of time. Recently, Kunal’s initiative has been appreciated by the Government of India and they have been nominated for the National Youth Award 2015-2016. They are one of the youngest recipients of this award, headed by Vice president Manisha Jain and HR head Sharan Thambi.
The Saviours have one motto — Help people, even when you know they can’t help you back.