Hidden among the chaotic collection of decrepit alleys, perplexing roundabouts, and weaving rickshaws, there is an unassuming, white building. This structure, surrounded by several Blood Mobiles, is the Bombay City Branch of the India Red Cross Society. I had the privilege of visiting the center while taking a family vacation to India over winter break. Although the site doesn’t boast extravagant advertising methods, a large donation center, or a surplus budget, all 35 staff members are compassionate, generous, resourceful, dedicated, and hard-working. The center only has about 2-3 walk-in donors per day, and a majority of their donations are the result of Blood Mobile presence at political functions, birthday parties, universities and other large social gatherings. Dr. Narinder Kaur Naidu, Medical Director for the Bombay City Branch, mentioned the significance of the National Service Scheme (NSS) in raising awareness about Red Cross needs, providing volunteers, and encouraging others to donate. NSS is a service organization of 2.6 million volunteers from over 200 universities, which shows the power and crucial presence of youth in philanthropic efforts.As I received a delightful tour of the blood center, I passed the halls adorned with catchy propaganda, such as a poster saying We can’t get blood from a stone, so please give us a little of yours. The Mumbai branch gives about 35-40% of its collected units at no cost. A majority of these recipients are children, who are also provided medicines if required. I am impressed by the amount the branch is able to do on few resources, such as hold local events for World Red Cross Day, engage the Junior Red Cross in activities such as summer camps and workshops, and celebrity cricket matches. It was an honor to be able to visit the Maharastra branch in Mumbai, and to meet fellow human beings striving to impact the world around them through service, leadership, and compassion.
Visiting the center reminded me of why I volunteer for the Red Cross; the passion the Red Cross has for positive change transcends cultural, political, language, and country boundary lines and truly saves the lives of people across the globe! Thank you India Red Cross Society!