CHAI FOR CANCER – Getting our friends and family and the community around us to raise their cup of Tea for Cancer Care

Alice and the Mad Hatter at our Chai for Cancer Adda
The Australia Tea Coffee Mug – My Inspiration and reminder
This cup has sat on my table for years.  19 years ago, to be exact and I was in
Australia on a UICC Fellowship when one Sunday morning in Brisbane, I was
invited to a unique party. In the cheerfully decorated veranda of a Community Centre,
many people were gathered and a delightful event was unfolding. People walked
in with cakes and cookies and everyone was offered Coffee or Tea as was their
choice. I was introduced to volunteers, survivors, nurses, doctors, farmers,
mothers with their children and so many other people who had gathered to raise
their cups for cancer research. Before leaving everyone put in a little
something in the collection box and I remember buying the pretty mug which said
Australia’s biggest Tea and Coffee Morning. The visit was part of my training
in Fund Raising initiatives involving the community.

For years this extraordinary event has remained at the
back of my mind and I remember very clearly thinking, at that time, what a neat
idea it was.

My grandfather used to have a saying which when loosely
translated from Tamil would mean whatever was meant to happen only happened at
the time it was meant to happen …So for all these years the thought of this Tea
Coffee Morning stayed buried in my mind while I worked through my years in book
store management, Television programme scripting and of course Cancer Care.

The Art work that I bullied FOM volunteer to modify and send to me in 24 hrs
The C F C Logo !!!!
As you all know, at Max India we are very involved with
organising and supporting the activities of 
Friends of Max  and as the group
has grown from strength to strength and established themselves as a support
group to reckon with , so have their needs to equip themselves with enough
resources . To be honest, they have been struggling to raise funds that would
help them meet their three pronged agenda of

Organising regular meetings in different

Distributing educational material

Supporting costs of monitoring tests for
those financially challenged

Attempts at involving industry, other trusts and donors
and organising fund raisers have all fallen flat on their faces. There has been
no one from the 11 Trustees (as the head of Max India I am the Managing Trustee,
the 12th one) who has been able to devote enough time to think out
and follow up on any specific fund raising project. A time came when it was
doubtful if we could even continue to organise the Together we Share and Learn
meetings that were so vital to keep the members connected and linked together.

Society Tea’s contribution went  along way

One afternoon, around a year ago, along with a few of the
Trustees I was in a meeting in my office with a resource person whom Novartis
had recommened to work with us on fund raising projects. To be honest, despite a
work shop that had been conducted for the core group leaders, no one was
motivated or inspired by anything that had come to pass.  As this meeting also was heading nowhere, my
eyes fell on the Australia Mug on my table and I said out loud , that is what
we will do . Get people to raise their cups of tea for Cancer . And Chai for
Cancer was born .

They looked at me sceptically and I did not pursue it too
much then. Already my mind was racing ahead with a plan and I did not want
anyone to kill it even before it saw the light of day.

I am now sharing with you the brief concept note I wrote
out and implemented and you will understand for yourself what it involved.

The project Chai for Cancer is a unique attempt to raise
awareness in the community about the needs of cancer survivors as well as
create an event that will be a fund raiser with Friends of Max as the beneficiary,
to provide vital support to the families facing a diagnosis of cancer.

Basic premise of the Chai for Cancer Event

We will designate one particular day in the
year and ensure that different City Chapters of Friends of MAX in India will
hold the event concurrently. (Currently there are over 20  City Chapters – Please see attached list at
the end of the note)

The City Chapter Leaders will host a Tea
Party or Chai ka Adda in his/ her home or a suitable venue

They will Invite friends and family

Each invitee donates an amount towards the
cup of tea consumed

Minimum amount determined at Rs 100/-
Every donation received a receipt

Maximum left to individual

All donations will be in the name of Friends
of Max
Beautiful Thank You cards to each guest
Receipts and 80G tax exemptions will be
given to all donors


Raise Cancer Awareness in the Community

Raise Funds on a large scale for FOM Support

Make this an Annual Event on a National Scale

The plan was to escalate this Pilot Project with FOM City
Chapters to include other hosts for Chai for Cancer. Potential venues would  be Clubs, Hospital cafeterias, Cafes and Corporate
and other Offices.

Promotion included creating events on Social Media , Posters
and Flyers, FM Radio amongst other avenues.

At a later stage Branding would include Chai for Cancer
specific Motif/logo, the Tag line and merchandise like Mugs /Tea Pots
/strainers/tea bag holders and napkins , tea cosy, table cloths.

Our City Chapters
were ready to  host the first ever Chai
for Cancer series of events on 11th May 2013 (originally 9th
March , but postponed due to delay in submitting CFC logo for Trade Mark) in
the following cities  :

1.       Mumbai

2.       Delhi

3.       Chennai

4.       Bangalore

5.       Hyderabad

6.       Pune

7.       Jodhpur

8.       Ahmedabad

9.       Anand

10.   Jammu

11.   Chandigarh

12.   Indore

13.   Ranchi

14.   Patna

15.   Kolkata

16.   Ahmedabad

17.   Kochi

18.   Kanpur

19.   Calicut

20.   Vizag

Volinteer Vidya who made hundreds of cups of tea in my kitchen
21.   Amritsar

Initially this list
had only 16 cities but once FOM volunteers heard about the concept , offers
from other cities to host came pouring in. And some volunteers even held their
events in public places like parks, hospitals and restaurants.

What we did  after announcing the campaign , creating and
applying for Trade Marking the Logo and identifying the hosts/cities
Volunteers helped in creating posters

1.       We approached a well-known Tea Company who
agreed to provide the Tea leaves to all the hosts at no cost.

2.       Used in-house talent for designing posters
and banners as well as Thank You cards (supported by the Tea Company , Society

3.       Put together a Kit for hosts that included
Tea, Banners, Posters, Flyers , FOM Brochures , Thank You Cards and Receipt

4.       Announced Chai for Cancer on Social Media .
Created a Face Book page and a Twitter Account .

5.       Created an e mail account for

Salman , always a Friend of Max taking the Selfie that made history
6.       Arranged for one interview with a leading
newspaper which in turn led to

7.       FM Radio coverage leading to more exposure

8.       Salman Khan tweeted his support to 6.4
million followers ( and our phones did not stop ringing)

9.       Had Salman endorse the campaign

10.   Designed mugs for sale ( plans for next
batch with his signature)

Violunteer’s Art Work on CFC mugs




Banner outside an apartment

Setting up the Mugs for sale

In Calicut and Dr Mini attends

Our doctors join the Delhi Adda

They went like hot cakes

Happy Donor with her cuppa


The Kerala Champs

Meticulous records and receipts

Chembur , Mumbai

Bhai’s Selfie


The beautiful mugs


At an FOM’s work place
weeks after the big day, 35 Chai Addas in 20 + cities later , the donations are
still flowing into the FOM account and it looks like they will not have to
worry about finding resources for their programmes for this year.
PS: Over 53 people came to my house and together raised almost a hundred thousand rupees … 

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