By Yatin Nihalani
First things first. I am no experienced BloodConnect veteran who came up with the idea that eventually went on to save many lives and is now here to tell you his tale.
I am not even a member of the organisation who joined it after stepping into the college and has been working his arse off for the past two years to uphold its legacy. All I am is an amateur who took up an internship with BloodConnect since he had nothing better to do, and came out at the other end completely humbled and overwhelmed.
Before telling you what we are, let me iterate on what we are not. We are not special. We are not the first good thing that has happened to IIT Delhi. And we most certainly are not even remotely close to the best. We are not extraordinary. We are not cool. What we are, though, is a select group of people who believe in doing good. And apparently, as I had the fortune of figuring out over the course of a few months, that’s what counts.
There is this memory that rushes out from the inner reaches of my mind when I stop for a moment to ponder about the time when I first bumped into BloodConnect. By memory I mean a girl. To protect her identity, let’s just give her a randomly generated codename, say, Prerna Arya. Now an Expansion and R&D head and a dear friend, all I recall from that time is asking why she was bothering herself so much about a group that seemed insignificant to my eyes. All of a sudden, with a twinkle in her eye and a smile that bared almost every single one of the teeth that she possessed, she had said, “To please my parents, I study. To please my heart, I dance. And what do you imagine I do in order to please my soul?!” After she had done rolling her eyes and walking away in a huff, I gazed after her, convinced in a matter of seconds that she meant every word she said.
And she is just one of the many; the kind of people who make BloodConnect exist, and do the kind of work that it does. What kind of work? The kind that has managed to secure about six thousand voluntary blood donations in over sixty blood donation camps, which, for those of you who screwed up their JEE ranks because of the Mathematics section, translates to saving just about 18,000 lives. Extraordinary? No. Good? Oh yeah. The number of people that we’ve actually reached out to is in fact much higher. Then there is the entire range of colleges that now form the extended arms of BloodConnect, of cities across the country that we’re now expanding to, and of the awards that seem to be trying so hard to prove our extraordinariness that in fact doesn’t exist. Simple ordinary people saving lives. Just another Monday, no big deal!
Talking about the people who make this very ordinary task possible day in and day out, I can’t possibly forget the co-founder. Again, for anonymity’s sake, let’s give him another of my randomly generated codenames, say, Utkarsh Kawatra. It has been a while since this particular part of BloodConnect passed out of IIT Delhi, but ask any of the simple nice people that I’ve been telling you about and they’ll tell you what an integral role he still plays in ensuring the smooth ordinary functioning of this ordinary organisation. I had once asked Utkarsh why, after all these years, he had not left the organisation. This is what he had ‘e-mailed’ back to me, “Tell me something. After finishing school, when you move out of your home, do you cease being part of your family?! BloodConnect meant everything to me, and continues to do so. We’re one big noisy family. We annoy each other. We irritate each other. But we love each other. And oh, we save lives! :)” No, that smiley wasn’t an addition of my own. Utkarsh uses a couple of those in every line. Come to think of it, since I haven’t actually met the guy, this is exactly the face that I’ve formed for him in my mind: a big round yellow smiley going about supervising stuff. What would I know! I’m just a bloody intern (forgive the pun).
I’ve been blabbering for quite some time now. I leave you with the thoughts of another one of the randomly generated codenamed people, Rishabh Arora (Expansion and R&D head). In his own words, the one fact that a blood donation newbie can perhaps immediately relate to is how every single photograph of someone donating blood seems to feature the donor smiling ear to ear. There is nothing, I repeat nothing (he actually did repeat nothing), that beats the satisfaction of contributing to such a cause. He too had walked away in a huff after rolling his eyes. An unyielding passion, an uncanny determination, a certain distaste towards me and a remarkable ability to roll eyes, are the features that I couldn’t help notice every member of this ‘loving’ family shared.
These are just a few examples off the top of my head; many many more where they come from. Only that I’m now almost done with my sandwich and am running out of original randomly generated codenames to use. Besides, scrolling up tells me that I’ve summarised BloodConnect just about fine for your eyes. You always have our brochures and mailers at your disposal in case you’re wondering why this piece of text is devoid of numbers and statistics and why it hasn’t turned boring already (forgive the hopeful sarcasm).
If someone had told me a few months ago that I would soon start ‘feeling’ for BloodConnect and grow all passionate towards this family simply by observing its members at work, well, I’d have rolled my eyes and walked away in a huff, irony galore. Come join us and see for yourself. Be a part of an ordinary revolution of ordinary people, doing ordinary work every day and somehow saving other ordinary lives. And if not that, then at least remember to donate blood at our camps. You’d be surprised at how much of it you uselessly carry around. Besides, there’s nothing quite like having a complete stranger shove needles into your veins, take out stuff from within and in the same breath convince you to smile for a photograph like an idiot.
One hell of a family they have out there! I’m smiling as I sign off.