Tragedies often leave an indelible mark on people. At times for people, these become sources of inspiration to bring a change in society.
Similar is the story of a 24-year-old man from Timmayapalem village in Andhra Pradesh's Prakasam district who decided to embark on a journey from Kanyakumari to Jammu and Kashmir to raise awareness on the importance of blood donation.
Gandu Shiva travelled across the length and breadth of the country, covering 7000 km on foot, to educate people on the need for a blood bank in every vicinity and to encourage people to donate blood in order to save lives.
"Last year during the first wave of the COVID-induced lockdown, we had to rush my elder sister who was pregnant to hospital after she developed some complications," Shiva told The Times of India.
She required blood but the family was unable to arrange it on time as people were not ready to donate amid the COVID-scare and since Shiva's village lacked access to a government blood bank.
The nearest blood bank was about 200 km away and was a private facility.
"Even if some banks agreed to give blood, they quoted hefty amounts, and we didn't have enough money. Ultimately, my sister lost her child," said Shiva.
The Journey Ahead
Shiva began his awareness journey on April 1 and travelled through 22 states including Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Kolkata, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, and Punjab.
He reached the final leg of the walkathon in Delhi last week, according to The New Indian Express.
Speaking to the publication, he said that people need to be educated on the basics of the blood donation process to ward off the fears and instill confidence in them. He stressed that people were still superstitious and had misconceptions about donating blood.
"Since blood can't be manufactured in the lab, only donations can help scores of people suffering from cancer, thalassemia among others," Shiva told TOI.
Organising Blood Donation Camps
With the coordination of the Red Cross Society, Lion's Club, local help groups, and police departments, Shiva has conducted more than 300 blood donation camps at hospitals, colleges, and collected one lakh units of blood so far.