Members of the Panorama Ridge Secondary School Charity Club are hoping to make a difference halfway around the world.
For just over two years, a volunteer organization known as Two Worlds Cancer Collaboration has been helping the extremely poor in India access pain management for cancer treatment and palliative care.
For Zahara Lalani, a B.C. Cancer Agency nurse and Two Worlds volunteer, being an advocate for cancer patients in India needing end-of-life care has become a passion.
“I had heard about big problems in other countries surrounding cancer care,” said Lalani, “and I was looking for a way to give back beyond our privileged society.”
Located in the city of Hydrerbad in the State of Andhra Pradesh (population 84 million), the Two Worlds clinic is the only palliative care cancer clinic for those living below the poverty line, which is nearly 80 per cent of the population. Patients often walk for days to get to the clinic seeking help. The child cancer survival rate is 20 per cent in India compared to more than 80 per cent in North America.
In India, morphine and other pain controls are often inaccessible, due mostly to government regulations and fear of addiction. Volunteers with Two Worlds try to educate the doctors and nurses about pain relief and prescribing morphine.
After a presentation to members of the charity club at Panorama Ridge Secondary by Lalani, the students began to take action.
For Grade 8 student Nahall Fathi-Farimani, the thought of raising funds for such a worthy cause seemed very natural. “I liked the idea because my aunt died of cancer, so it’s really important to me,” said Fathi-Farimani. “I thought, if I can help someone else with cancer even though they don’t know me, it’s important. My family is very proud and that makes me feel good.”
Along with nearly $400 raised so far through a pizza sale and a basket raffle, the students exchanged personal artwork they had made with some of the patients in India.
For more information about Two Worlds Cancer Collaboration, go to www.twoworldscancer.ca