Bhubaneswar Celebration of Life – October 24, 2009

Gita, Viji and myself traveled to Bhubaneswar in the state of Orissa for the inaugural FOM event there, a Celebration of Life. Being the first meeting ever in this city, there was a bit of uncertainty at how things would unfold. All of the uncertainty was put to rest as nearly 200 patients and family members attended the event, which was hosted by Infosys, software giant and pioneering tech company in India. Two days before, we had toured the Infosys campus and seen the venue. They spent hours with us and promised their full support of the event. They did not disappoint! Not only did they graciously donate the venue, but they gave a team of people supporting the event, from set-up, to audio/visual, to catering, and clean-up. All this would not have been possible without the connection of a key FOM volunteer in Bhubaneswar, whose connection with the company paved the road for a successful event.

Some highlights of the event:
• Patients and caregivers came from miles away, one on an 8 hour train ride, to meet others for a day of learning and connection. Many of them were attending this kind of meeting with physician/fellow survivors for the first time.
• Novartis Stockists and representatives of Family Credit (key partner in the NOA program) attended and were inspired by the event.
• More than 100 tributes were collected!!
• Physicians and survivors fielded questions in a panel – patients were clearly eager and thirsting for information.

• A well known film star/director/producer, who also happens to be a GIPAP patient, attended and shared his experiences, along with many other spontaneous testimonials.
• Through Viji’s volunteer training program, patients found connections with each other through their answers to the questions:
o Why volunteer?
o What were your initial reactions to your diagnosis?

• We cut a birthday cake for Max, featuring an inspired design by Viji of featuring the Chariot Wheel of Konark temple in Bhubaneswar, integrated with the TMF logo.

• Just hours after the meeting, a core group was already forming via the Yahoo group.

It was my first patient gathering and I was grateful for the opportunity to meet patients, witness connections forming, and be a part of a learning/growth event for all.

Gita was born and raised in Bhubaneswar, so it was great to see this beautiful city of temples on the Bay of Bengal through her eyes. Thank you to Gita and the FOM volunteers here for showing us a great time. Enjoy these photos of the event, courtesy of Gita…

Congratulations to MaxIndia and Friends of Max for yet another successful event!

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