By Zaiceka Ahmed
One would say a doctor’s chamber is not a place to make acquaintances, but I’m glad I did in the case of this young lady. Energetic, fresh and youthful, she definitely didn’t belong in the waiting room with patients, and that generated curiosity in many. Turns out Kiran Bahrus, the person in question, was waiting to accompany Dr Debasis Basu – widely renowned for spearheading DAY (Diabetes Awareness and You), an Organization that tackles the exponentially growing cases of diabetes in the country – to a conference to spread awareness of the potentially fatal disease. Not a typical gig you would find a person in their mid-twenties participating in on a Saturday evening when they are generally thronging pubs or putting on their dancing shoes for a club.
Eager to know more about her dedication to the NGO, I met her again a couple of days back at a café, on the last day of Diabetes Awareness Week which had kept her on her toes. During the course of an engaging conversation, it was evident she was a person who deserved more recognition.
Here is an excerpt from the lengthy chat, which ended up being more of an interview!
“When and how did you first come to know about DAY?
Dr Basu has been my family doctor for a long time but it was in 2013, while I was doing my final year thesis under him, I also had the opportunity of assisting him in a chapter that he authored. It was then that he told me about this beautiful endeavour called DAY. He is the Organization’s President, and as my God Father I consider him my biggest blessing. He continues to nourish my motivation to participate in the initiative.
What is your part in the organization?
I play a vital role in its ‘Capacity Building Wing’, and deal directly with the Pharma houses that keep the doctors abreast of the latest technologies and achievement in science that can be applied to the prevention and treatment of diabetes. The key to diabetes prevention and management, we strongly believe are the cadre of healthcare professionals called Diabetes Educators. I am intricately involved in conducting an Educational program every month for them under DEEP (Diabetes Educators Education Program) and have been successful for the last eight months.
The operations of the organization is active on so many levels, including the adoption of an entire village (Kumarpukur) … what would you say if you were asked to pick one feat most special to you?
Amongst the many initiatives, what touches my heart is the patient sponsorship program where we give free insulin and medicines to people who cannot afford it. As we know that children with diabetes require insulin everyday to survive, giving them insulin actually means keeping them alive. We currently support 30 such people out of which 3 are children. My dream is to make this 300.
And how do you plan to achieve that?
I have been talking to people to adopt a needy child and take charge of their insulin requirement per month (approximately Rs. 3,500/month). People are highly sensitive about taking up a child’s education and paying their school fees for a month. I say that’s a brilliant initiative but let the child live before you educate.
One does not come across social causes such as these very easily. How do you plan to attract and engage more people to a non-profit organization?
An off-shoot strategy called “the magical box initiative” should partly help us engage at least a section of the mass in a rudimentary level. “I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot, TOGETHER we can do GREAT things,” is something Mother Teresa had said. This strategy is based on the same premise. A donation box kept at every corner of the city, country and the globe would open up avenues and opportunities for every individual to contribute in his/her own capacity and become a part of our journey thereby making a marked difference in an individual’s life.
We do school awareness programs every month to curb obesity right at the tender age. We have been able to educate over 5000 children so far. We also do free camps throughout the city where people from all walks of life volunteer to help us out.
A commitment to such a cause must have had you compromise on social life…
Working with such Organizations gets challenging at times where you have to make a choice between your family and social life against the demands of the Organization. I try my level best to keep a balance. What works best for me is to give some amount of my time each day to any activity of the Organization. Sometimes this could be just 10 minutes of making a few calls/drafting a donation letter and sometimes it maybe an entire day where we are involved in academic activities with our members. However I wouldn’t say it has brought about a very drastic change – while I have had to cut down my time with friends (and the complaints from them never stop!), I do attend social gatherings when possible even when there is an early morning appointment the next day.
Was interacting with patients, especially children, something you had difficulty getting accustomed to?
Professionally I am a clinical researcher involved in a paediatric setup that caters to the financially disadvantaged section of society. Every parent that walks into the premises has a different story to tell. The children that DAY sponsors Insulin also have similar stories – one is a mason’s daughter and the others father is a vegetable vendor. They just about manage to have 2 meals per a day. All such things make me realize that we crib and waste time on such insignificant things. Life is beautiful and each moment counts. Let’s make that difference and bring a smile in someone’s life.
Till now we have only spoken about your contribution to Diabetes Awareness and You. Let’s talk about what you have gained out of it in the last three years
As an individual, DAY has given me a lot of platforms to grow. I am much more confident and my communication skills are getting better each day. My perspective about life and its philosophy have deepened. I have realized that every breathing individual wants to contribute, serve and help people around them, somewhere has an edge of social service (whether the individual has realized or not) but there are very few who get the opportunity to do it. I am lucky to be associated with DAY. I started with the thought that “DAY needs me” but as time passed I have realized that “I need DAY.”
For more information on Diabetes Awareness and You please visit www.day.org.in