BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
Photo Credit: Sumi’s Photography
Atlanta, GA, September 30, 2022: Four-year-old Asba spent a night on the streets of Mumbai along with her parents. Next morning, the family had to head back to the hospital for Asba’s cancer treatment. There was no way this family from Bihar who barely managed to get to Mumbai could afford to get their child treated but also pay for food, accommodations, travel back and forth to the hospital for the entire course of the treatment that could potentially take months. They feared they may have to head back abandoning treatment. Thankfully the social worker they met at TMH advised them to reach out to Access Life, which changed the course of their path, for the better. The family spent the next eight months at the Access Life center and returned to Bihar after successfully completing Asba’s treatment.
At the core of Access Life are distraught families such as Asba’s, who are in dire need of support economically and emotionally during the most challenging phases of their life.
Hearts of Gold 2022, Access Life America’s 2nd annual gala, held on September 17, 2022 at the Crowne Plaza Banquet Hall in Norcross raised awareness and funds to support Access Life centers in India. With entertaining music and dance performances, sumptuous spread of food, the night ended on a high note with DJ Jaz opening the dance floor to engage the audience.
“It was quite heartwarming to fully experience the charitable spirit and enthusiasm of all the volunteers and attendees at the ALA fundraiser. It was an amazing event to meet, network and bond with many likeminded professionals in the Atlanta area who share a common passion for supporting families that require assistance when dealing with pediatric cancer,” – Anir Pradhan, COO EmpInfo, and Nootan Pradhan, President/Owner FirstLight Home Care of Metro Atlanta commented.
Many guests echoed similar sentiments.
“It was an honor and humbling experience to be part of ALA Gala night. Wonders can happen when people come together for a noble cause. We wish ALA continued success in their mission of supporting families struggling with pediatric cancer,” Ravi Bijlani, President Data Zoo, and Nita Dembla, Director, Collibra, said.
“Access Life America is an organization that works tirelessly to uplift and support underprivileged families when they need it the most. Every member of the Access life team is committed to the wellbeing of the children that need special care along with their families. The Access Life America annual gala gave the local community of Atlanta a fun and meaningful way to give back and be a part of this cause,” DJs for the night Jasmeet Singh (DJJaz) and Nimarta Kaur noted.
Each year, an estimated 400 000 children and adolescents of 0-19 years old develop cancer. India is home to at least 20 per cent of the global childhood cancer burden, with nearly 75,000 kids diagnosed with cancer every year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
With mounting disparities between economic strata of society, the low-income groups in villages are hardest hit with the diagnosis. While they barely manage to travel to big cities such as Mumbai for treatment, the added onus of providing for food, accommodation, transportation during the course of the stay is scary and seems impossible to many. To these groups, Access Life, as the title suggests, provides access to life through myriad of means allowing families to concentrate completely on the treatment alone.
In 2012, President Obama proclaimed September as National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month to bring awareness to pediatric cancer, the leading cause of death by disease for children under the age of 14.
“September is Childhood Cancer awareness month and we honor those children battling cancer as well as survivors and their families at our event. Our organizing team meticulously planned the entire event, starting from selecting a fabulous banquet hall, to top class entertainment with local talents and great food. With great support and help from volunteers, donors and sponsors we had a successful fundraiser. As a result, we were able to raise funds to support 25 kids and their families at our centers for the entire duration of their cancer treatment. The average stay for a kid and family at Access life Center is 6 months and $12 per day,” Rajesh Veliyath, Parvinder Singh, and Gopal Nair, Board of Directors, Access Life America, told NRI Pulse in a joint statement.
“It was a pleasure to help organize, support and attend ALA’s 2nd annual gala to raise awareness and funds for such a worthy cause – pediatric cancer! Access Life is making a real difference in helping families dealing with this critical condition in India. The magnitude of this challenge is massive in India & around the world. Organizations like ALA are starting to make a dent in this and are extremely thankful to each and every supporter!” Ravi Acharya, CTO, National Vision said.
How exactly does Access Life serve those in need?
Every day, thousands of families from small towns across India bring their children diagnosed with cancer to Mumbai for treatment. Most of these economically backward masses can barely afford to pay even the minimum fee, let alone the cost of accommodation for the duration of the treatment. Access Life America works at grass-root level to meet the need of providing safe and clean home-like atmosphere to such children and their families. Access Life also provides multi-disciplinary care by supporting their nutrition needs, transportation to the hospital, basic education including moral support and counseling that parents need during these challenging months.
Girish Nair, Founder and Chairman of Access Life Assistance Foundation is based out of Mumbai. He is a partner with SGS Enterprises and on the board of directors of Nexus Travel Solutions Pvt. Ltd. While volunteering for local hospitals in Mumbai, Girish and his friend Ankeet Dave found the need to provide help and support to families battling cancer in their children. Gopal Nair, Girish’s brother and President of Access Life America (ALA) is an Atlanta resident, and IT professional. The ALA chapters in Georgia, Florida and Texas are working with and supporting local charities to forge partnerships and goodwill while offering comfort to families fighting illnesses. ALA organizes events and seminars across the US to spread awareness of the challenges of childhood cancer and its impact of low-income families, thereby seeking funding and financial support for the ALA Foundation.
Founded in 2014, having served over 1050 kids and families since then, Access Life engages in serving through 7 Access Life Centers – 4 in Mumbai , 1 in Pune , 1 in Manipal & 1 in Chandigarh, 8 Medical transportation vehicles, Education for kids and Counselling sessions for families.
“The average stay for a family is about 6 months with $12/- per day for supporting a braveheart battling Cancer & family. 101 bravehearts can be supported at one time (303 total occupancy along with family),” Nair noted.
You may check https://www.accesslife.org/ for more information.