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Khushboo Sharma

IWB Blogger

Meet Lata Amashi, The Blood Donation Warrior Who Holds The Guinness World Record

  • IWB Post
  •  June 14, 2019

 

Lata Amashi is a woman who has always put the cause of the underprivileged and needy above her. Therefore it doesn’t come as a surprise to know that her team of volunteers from the Rotary Bangalore District 3190 holds the Guinness World Record in blood donation for collecting 3034 liters of blood in eight hours. If one wasn’t enough she holds another one for organising the biggest Diabetes awareness camp 2017-18.

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The 64-year-old was born and brought up in Delhi and the seed to help others were planted in her mind in the very childhood as both her parents were social workers. Her father was also at a reputed post with the United Nations. She refers to her parents as her biggest inspiration.

Lata has a job experience of working at the Syndicate Bank, as a senior manager and as a lecturer at Bangalore University and invested her compassion in both the jobs. While working at the bank she would often pay a visit to her local vendors in the market and help them with whatever savings she had. Her life as a lecture also began with a philanthropic cause. She was a member of a club where she managed to help the poor with 30,000 cataract surgeries before she joined Rotaract.

Blood donation was the destiny’s calling for Lata as it took her by stride and even before she knew it she was arranging blood camps across Bangalore. With blood donation, her resolve to help people got even stronger and she decided to extend her service to the community in health-related issues. She is now the chairperson of blood donation and is the person everyone looks up for in blood-related issues – be it the organization of camps or procurement of a specific kind of blood.

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Here are the excerpts from the interview that we had with her:

You have often said that the seeds of philanthropy were sowed in your very childhood as both your parents were social workers. Can you recollect a memory that left a huge impact on you and shaped your charitable mindset?

Oh, that was something! (Laughs) So we were associated with Ramakrishna Ashram. I remember once when I was very young, my dad sold his two cars, an old Fiat, and one long white car, and gave the proceeds from the sale to the Ramakrishna Ashram instead of spending the money on a new car because he realized that their need was bigger than ours. He also financed my uncle’s daughter’s entire education as they did not have very good means and like it is said charity begins at home. Once we were provided compensation for one of our lands as it got drowned by dam water. My dad gave the entire sum to his brother-in-law as he was facing a financial crunch back then. So I have seen a lot of that at my home and my dad never asked for that money to be returned.

How does your family help you in your pursuit?

Ah! Good question. So my husband gives me money for my work, you need money for charity, right? But the shramdaan as in the hard work is all mine.

What is the biggest challenge that you are facing currently when it comes to blood donation?

To convince village people to donate blood that is my biggest challenge right now. They don’t mind taking blood but don’t like the idea of giving it. You see in such areas health awareness is very low and people don’t understand the importance of donating blood. My biggest concern is to make them understand the importance of donating blood.

How can we make blood donation more systematic and organised?

The more awareness we create about it, the more it will spread and the more people will get attached to it. Thus it will get automatically organised with an increase in the awareness. I have been committed to the cause for 12 years now and have seen a lot of change as people are getting more aware.

Can you share with us an inspiring story of blood donation?

You’d be surprised to know that a student of class eight from a CBSE school recently organised a blood donation camp and collected 65 units of blood which can save approximately 250 lives. The rule for blood donation states that you need to be of age 18 or above to be eligible for donation but that didn’t deter that boy from spreading awareness and organising the camp. That is what we can do by reaching out to school kids, we can make them aware and they can pass it on to their parents.

How come you are heading the same branch of Rotary for 12 years now despite the yearly shuffling?

You know how it goes in Rotary, a volunteer works in one field for a year, gets spent out and then changes the direction. This happens every year. But I changed the rules of the game. I think I am the only woman in Rotary who has worked in the same field for 12 years now and I have been doing it with great commitment. And do you know that Rotary Indiranagar comes among the five best in the world?

How can we inspire more people to volunteer?

Talk and keep talking! That is one. You can also organize events like flash mobs. I will give you an instance. There is one motor biker association in Bangalore. When some 40 bikers got together, it was duly noticed as people came forward to ask what is this noise and that is how their blood donation caught attention. You can employ creative and unique idea to attract more people and spread awareness. Ajkal ke bachche are very creative. They are so many websites now to create awareness but yes it has to impact rightly.

You can spread awareness at educational level by organising competitions like bookmark making and essay writing competitions.

Can you give us an example of one of the unique ideas being employed?

Okay, so Bangalore is a place of techies. It is not difficult to figure out that they generally visit malls with their families on Saturdays and Sundays. There is this huge quadrangle area right at the entrance of the mall. A guy started conducting blood donation camps in that area on weekends and received a huge response.

What are other health causes close to your heart?

So I am planning to sign up for stem cell collection on the World Bone Marrow Council. India has the lowest registry rate despite such a large population size. I am also working towards spreading awareness about diabetes since every tenth person in India is pre-diabetic and every eighth person is diabetic.

In the case of stem cell registry, what awareness must be created and in what direction?

Spreading awareness is very important. You must be aware that in the case of blood groups there are total 8 blood groups. When it comes to steam cell registration we consider HLA which is the white blood cell typing and is a 16 digit long alphanumeric code and there are 17000 different types and each time you need a 10/10 match. When an Indian needs it, I would obviously seek an Indian HLA to match 100 percent with the recipient’s HLA type. How is that going to happen when there are no donors available? We need to conduct a major drive to bring about this change.

Social work takes out so much from you. How do you recreate and energise?

Oh, there are so many ways. I love music, piano! I have actually learned to play the piano at a college of music in London. I love cooking, gardening, painting and also I love to entertain people. The problem is that I have far too many hobbies.

Can you share with us some life lessons that social work taught you?

Let’s put it the other way round. It is just like the question of chicken and the egg as they are both wrapped around the same thing. But social work has definitely provided me with the fulcrum to move around to help people more effectively.

Lata Amash has also worked towards the crafting five video to inspire more people to become blood donors and used 15 lakhs of her own money for the videos that cost them somewhere above 25 lakhs. We salute and support this resilient soul in her selfless pursuit.You can reach out to her through her e-mail at latamashi@hotmail.com or call her at +91 99805 93570.

Here are the BleedHope Videos that Lata got curated to inspire people:

1.) The Masterpiece

BleedHope – The Masterpiece | Blood Donation (PSA)

The BleedHope campaign seeks to raise awareness about the importance and urgency of donating blood. The campaign was conceptualized and produced by CurleyStreet in collaboration with the Rotary Club of Indiranagar. You can learn more about the campaign at https://www.bleedhope.com. This film is one in a series of five PSAs.

2) Child’s Play

BleedHope – Child’s Play | Blood Donation (PSA)

The BleedHope campaign seeks to raise awareness about the importance and urgency of donating blood. The campaign was conceptualized and produced by CurleyStreet in collaboration with the Rotary Club of Indiranagar. You can learn more about the campaign at https://www.bleedhope.com. This film is one in a series of five PSAs.

 

3) The Proposal

BleedHope – The Proposal | Blood Donation (PSA)

The BleedHope campaign seeks to raise awareness about the importance and urgency of donating blood. The campaign was conceptualized and produced by CurleyStreet in collaboration with the Rotary Club of Indiranagar. You can learn more about the campaign at https://www.bleedhope.com. This film is one in a series of five PSAs.

 

4) The Date

BleedHope – The Date | Blood Donation (PSA)

The BleedHope campaign seeks to raise awareness about the importance and urgency of donating blood. The campaign was conceptualized and produced by CurleyStreet in collaboration with the Rotary Club of Indiranagar. You can learn more about the campaign at https://www.bleedhope.com. This film is one in a series of five PSAs.

 

5) The Wish

BleedHope – The Wish | Blood Donation (PSA)

The BleedHope campaign seeks to raise awareness about the importance and urgency of donating blood. The campaign was conceptualized and produced by CurleyStreet in collaboration with the Rotary Club of Indiranagar. You can learn more about the campaign at https://www.bleedhope.com. This film is one in a series of five PSAs.

This article was first published on February 16, 2018.

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