There are only a few things in the world which have the capability to cause your whole life to come crashing down. One of the biggest examples is cancer. Simply hearing the word cancer is enough for someone to conjure images of gaunt illness and failing strength,
then let alone imagine their plight. Someone once said service to mankind is service to God. With that being said, it is very uncommon that nowadays we come across initiatives taken by people of this era which focuses on community service. Busy with their schedules, only a few among many realize the need of the hour of being there for someone who doesn’t have anyone to call their own. The sense of social service comes out of the kindness of one’s heart. It is the conscious that one develops over the years of being empathetic and having felt what it feels like to be in one’s shoes. Community/Social service isn’t being sympathetic but working for people with empathy.
It is quite hard to ignore one’s surrounding when we are also the contributing factor on how their life can shape out to be as we have the power to make our society free of the ill wills by making it happy, healthy and progressive. Only a few are those who realize the need of the hour and so did Amatullah Vahanwala. She saw the opportunity and seized it.
Amatullah, the 19-year-old who hails from Bangalore is currently pursuing BBA at Centre for Management Studies from Bangalore. She along with her co-founder Niharika Jadeja, who studies Molecular and Cellular Biology at UC Berkeley had met each other in high school, and that’s where Hair for Happiness was conceived and born.
Hair for Happiness is a hair donation initiative, through which the collection is later on sent to Little Princess Trust in the UK, a British Non-Profit which provides free wigs to children suffering from cancer across the UK and Ireland. People can donate at one of the donation drives or privately, using their “Kits to Cut”. In these kits, the organization mails the donors a Ziploc bag containing a certificate, a sheet of instructions, a few rubber bands, and clips.
Amatullah and Niharika, the duo who are filled with zeal and avidity have always been conditioned by their parents to aim high and reach for the stars by doing well for others as they happen to have strong backgrounds in reading and public speaking. They were influencing and were being influenced as for being it from academic pursuits and endeavours to extracurricular activities, hobbies and interests. Their families always urged them to engage in activities that they were passionate about. Being the role model they are, the families taught the girls not only to have numerous interests that they feel strong for but also to have the initiative to act on these interests and take them to the next level, which indeed acts as a great privilege.
Hair for Happiness was initially started as a small scale community service project with the modest goal of collecting around five donations – the amount required to provide for one wig’s making. After receiving the positive response, the young girls were overwhelmed once they took it to social media and hence started advertising in hopes of expanding their hair donation drive. It was a grapple with their other commitments, in terms of studying, and having to do other teenager things; but they came through well and conquered the obstacles.
Before starting Hair for Happiness, the duo was planning on donating their hair individually, since this is a subject both of them felt strong and always held a viewpoint that it was an underrepresented matter to be discussed in normal community service initiatives taken by the society. As one can always come across news about blood donation drives and donating old clothes and blankets, and while these are incredibly important and altruistic acts of charity, they felt the need that hair donation was also a significant, philanthropic action that was often overlooked was what inspired them. With hope and positivity at the very crux of its existence, Hair for Happiness is amending the lives of several children affected by cancer that put smiles across their faces.
Having an immense passion towards cancer patients who are battling their life and having a heart for helping the people, the dynamic duo also have strong and liberal beliefs about how if women have faith in their own abilities; and realize that they are competent, deserving, capable and nothing can hold them back to become successful in their professional and personal pursuits. Social and cultural traditions and norms have led people to believe that women are subservient to men, or that their careers are merely a side-conquest. These modes of thinking are terribly outdated and it has made the girls happy to see how much the society has progressed as a whole as self-doubt, under-confidence and insecurity (as a result of centuries of oppression) continue to affect today’s women more than any external social pressures for time immemorial now, they continue to fight the many hurdles in life.
Message to Women:
“It is very easy to make excuses based on within one’s circumstances, and everyone goes through one hardship or the other. Life is what you make of it, and it is your job to make the very best of it. Nobody else will come and hand it over to you.”