Services and selflessness

Services and selflessness

A name that is synonymous with rescue or rehabilitation is Red Cross. In fact, Indian Red Cross Society (as it is known in India), particularly the Karnataka branch of the Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) has been a trusted destination for the poor and needy.

Ever since it was established in 1921 in Bengaluru (Karnataka unit), the Red Cross (founded by Henry Dunant) has earned the distinction of pioneering relief operations and rendering services, benefitting innumerable suffering communities throughout the state.
Quite interestingly, all the 30 districts in Karnataka have an IRCS unit headed by the respective deputy commissioners of the districts (each district also has an elected managing committee). At the state-level, the IRCS is headed by governor and at the national-level, it is headed by the President.

Though organising blood donation camps is one of the well-known activities of Red Cross, it has made a mark in other service activities like providing relief to the victims of natural calamities, assistance to the disabled persons, organising health camps, social activities in schools and colleges and conducting disaster management training programmes among others.

When floods ravaged North Karnataka in the year 2009, Red Cross provided relief materials like blankets, utensils and food materials to more than 2,500 families in eight districts. Similarly, when tsunami struck Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh in 2004, the state unit collected and handed over a sum of Rs 3.6 crore to rebuild the damaged
infrastructure. This apart, the Red Cross rendered support to the victims of Haiti earthquake (2011), Japan earthquake, Uttarakhand flood and the recent Nepal earthquake.

Ambitious plans

Karnataka State Chairman for IRCS, Basrur Rajeev Shetty said that the State unit has several ambitious plans for the poor and needy. They include setting up 10 more blood banks and 100 blood collection centers throughout the state, identifying beneficiaries (people suffering from various types of disability in 21 districts) and providing necessary equipment through DDRC and ADIP schemes of the Central government, attempting to reach all university students in Karnataka to impart training under First Aid & Disaster Management, to provide drinking water in identified slum areas of five cities in Karnataka and to organise mega health camps throughout the state.

Among the 30 district units of IRCS in Karnataka, the Chikkaballapur district bagged the first place, for its service, for the past two consecutive years. A large amount of appreciation goes to the then deputy commissioner Dr R Vishal (presently Udupi DC) and Secretary C K Narayana Charya, a social worker, who is active even at the age of 85. Incidentally, Chikkaballapur unit started in 2008 and is one of the youngest units of the state.

Vishal said that the first thing he concentrated was on self-sustenance. “Though the Red Cross unit of Chikkaballapur was organising a number of blood donation camps, very soon we realised that there is not much benefit from collecting whole blood, as many times, patients need packed cells, platelets or plasma. Hence, we took steps to start a blood component separation unit and managed to get the license to start it within one week.”

On the other hand, the Red Cross unit members worked so hard that they managed to get 600 donors per month (up from 300 per month). Subsequently, the DC took steps to start a trauma care centre and is proud to inform that the death rate came down by 20 per cent after the trauma centre with CT scan facility was opened in the district. Just like the beginning of Red Cross, every district has an interesting tale to tell. IRCS Dakshina Kannada unit Chairman B Prabhakar Shriyan said that the two camps organised in the district in two consecutive years was a memorable experience.

In 2014, the IRCS conducted a health check camp in Banjarumale, a remote area in DK and in 2015, another camp was conducted in Elaneer, bordering Chikkamagaluru district. Both villages do not have power supply even to this day and a student has to walk six to eight km to go to school.

As Kumar V L S, a native of Shivamogga and dental surgeon by profession sums it up, if a person working in any field can spend at least 10 days in a year for a cause, a number of needy people can be benefitted greatly.

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