Chai for Cancer 2016 – On the right track

This weekend will see us four weeks into Chai for Cancer
2016 . A fundraiser that was a mad cap idea but somehow which is in its third
year now and going great guns .

Of course it meant a lot of tea , sweat and tears as this
year we were racing against time to put a few new tools in place well ahead of
the Chai for Cancer Day in May to enhance both the brand of Chai for Cancer and
its reach .

By now you are familiar with the basic premise of Chai for
Cancer : People all over the country , from all walks of life ; they may be
friends, family, neighbours, patients , volunteers , Max team members …are all
encouraged to host a Tea Party or an Adda in their homes . They invite their
family, friends and neighbours over to have a cup of Chai together and pay a
minimum of Rs100/- for that cup. The maximum is left to their discretion .
The first year and the second too saw many individuals
volunteer and bustling , successful Addas were held in homes in various cities.
Not just in homes but in hospitals and public spaces too as our FOM volunteers
succeeded in convincing the doctors and other authorities in more than a couple
of cities . These hosts have now, with their participation for the second and
third year running , become our strong ambassadors and brand enforcers.
Novartis took the lead and were the first corporate offices
to host an Adda in their premises and soon others followed.
So from homes to hospitals and offices to parks and gardens,
Chai for Cancer had found its bearings .
This year , the goal for me was to extend the reach of Chai
for Cancer and go beyond Bombay to which my major efforts were limited to
considering we were not going to spend any of our precious resources on
publicity. Being based in Bombay and having the machinery of the Max Foundation
Office support was one very important factor in this connection . We were of
course using Social Media and both Chai for Cancer and Friends of Max had their
FB pages and Twitter Handles.
So the next step was to have a website for Chai for Cancer
and the make it easy for the donor to donate online . It took a while to get
the bank formalities done with and get the Friends of Max website obtain the
necessary permissions . It was truly a race with time for OMG the paperwork and
the red tape and the bureaucracy took forever and ever . I was quite sure by
the end of it all that Santosh would simply throw up his hands in despair and
just quit. But no, he was the one who kept me moored to the ground and taught
me that most important virtue of all – patience. And all this mind you with all
the other work “distractions”   demanding our time and our attention. The
18,000 patients , the 19 strong team, the Govt’s unexpected customs duty
bombshell – and the Chai for Cancer Day approaching .
The Customs Duty issue and its possible repercussions on the
programme and impact upon the poorer section of our patients was what kept us
going. All the more now the need to raise funds was fundamental to the mission of
FOM and Max . HELPING PATIENTS LIVE WITH HOPE AND DIGNITY .

Our Tea Sponsors , Society Tea was on board once again . Fan
worked his magic and we had our art work and copy ready well in advance. Traditional
print media helped in its own small way to help promote Chai for Cancer again but
it was Social Media and the Radio that really made the difference . Two major
Radio Stations continued their support and one of them went Pan India with
their Radio Jockeys announcing the concept of Chai for Cancer for the four days
leading up to the Day , the Second Sunday of May ; exhorting everyone to raise
their cup of tea wherever they were – and drink to the cause . And go online
and donate . as simple as that .
And of course by retweeting my tweet Salman Khan took it all
to another level . For 24 hours , Chai for Cancer was trending what with some 4
million of his followers retweeting it.

So how did it all translate into effective action ? Awareness
levels rose in an unprecedented manner , more people other than FOM offered to
and hosted Addas and more people attended these Addas . And funds ? Have they
come in ? Yes they have and people have actually gone and donated online . Not
in the huge numbers we hoped they would but enough to make us feel we are headed
in the right direction here .

We even raised those cups of Chai in CML and GIST Horizons .
It was humbling to see the appreciation at the GIST meeting and I must confess
our Chai for Cancer mugs and tee shirts sold like hot cakes , no hot tea !!!!
At CML Horizons Pat and Erin raise their cups with 

Param , FOM TRUSTEE 

AND CHAI FOR CANCER COMES TO SPAIN 

At the GIST Horizons 
Friends of friends who hosted last year – the cascade effect 

At Novartis India 

When physicians support our cause – Tata Medical Center , Kolkata 

yes my love , this is for you 

Morning Walkers in Kolkata  

A morning well spent at Victoria Memorial Gardens with the FOM Volunteers who sold a lot of tea 

And the Bikers come to my adda at home and promise to one on World Motorcycle Day 

Vijaya brings in the delicious cake my old college friend baked especially for the Adda at home 

Bikers, friends , movie actors and directors all fit into my tiny apartment 

People post selfies with their morning cuppa from all over the world on the 8th 

And they are called Chaifies 

FOM GIST leader and her daughter at the Tata Memorial Adda 

A friend paints kettles and they are sold out in no time 

Happy Hosts 

12 year old Dhruv makes the board for the Kettle Shop 

Friends , old college chums , neighbours – all join in 

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