“I owe my life to the Karachi Grammar School (KGS) Lifeline. I was diagnosed with a blood disease six years ago and they gave me almost 150 blood bags over a period of two years. They were instrumental in saving my life and I have been volunteering with them the past three years - ever since I got well.”
This is how Farah, a member of KGS Lifeline, introduced the organisation to The Express Tribune on Wednesday. Current and former Grammarians, their parents and students from four other schools, including Nixor and Bayview College, thronged the main hall of the schools’ Junior Section campus to donate blood at a camp organised by the Lifeline on Wednesday.
“KGS Lifeline is 20 years old,” explained Romina Mirza, one of the parents organising the event. “It was initiated by a group of parents who realised that we need to do something for Karachi and for our country.”
She went on to talk about how KGS Lifeline tries to inculcate the value of social service in its students from a very early age. “Every year, we go to the classes of students enrolled in grades kindergarten to three and give them little heart-shaped cookies so that they associate blood donation with love for Karachi,” said Mirza. “We give wrist-bands to the parent donors with KGS Lifeline written on them to give to their children so that when the child comes to school the next day, he or she can proudly raise their hand and say - My parent is a donor.”
“This is one of the few things we do without any competition,” Nadeem Ghani, the dean of Nixor College, told The Express Tribune. According to Ghani, KGS’s biggest asset is its parent body who come together regularly to contribute to society. “I am a Grammarian myself and it feels very good to be helping out here. I almost feel guilty about feeling so good about doing something so small for my country.”
A group of students from Nixor shared how pleased they were that the camp was organised so well. “KGS has invited everyone to attend even though getting such large numbers together is no easy task,” explained one student from the school. “Normally, schools limit these events to their own students.”
Sarfaraz Jafri, the National Administrator of Hussaini blood bank - which will be getting the bags collected by KGS this year - explained that the blood camp at KGS was one of the biggest in Pakistan. “Only about 5.6 per cent of the blood being donated in Pakistan is done voluntarily,” he said. “Most people donate only when a relative of theirs needs blood.”
“My wife doesn’t give blood because she is afraid,” said Faisal Qadri, one of the donors, while lying on one of the countless stretchers placed in the main hall by the lifeline. “I try to bring my kids along every time I donate blood so that they know how important this is. I want my son to follow in my footsteps, at least in this department.”
“I feel noble but terrified,” said an A’ levels student from KGS, who was donating blood for the first time. “The needle is huge.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 28th, 2013.
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