Hair for Hope India was started in June 19th 201 3 by Premi Mathew to create awareness about hair donation. A wig with natural hair is very expensive and is considered a luxury especially because chemo is very expensive and it is usually required only for 6 months-1 year. We collect donated hair and convert it into wigs and give it free to economically challenged chemo patients. It gives them the confidence to face society and more courage to fight the dreaded disease.
The campaign captured all headlines when it was launched in Kerala since the first donor was Ms Nisha Jose, former Miss Kerala , wife of an MP Jose P Mani and daughter in law of Minister KM Mani. subsequently various schools like Global Public School, Rotary club and organisations like KIMS etc supported the campaign by organising events. The campaign also organised a events at Bangalore, Mumbai, Mangalore, Gujarart, Chennai, Nagaland, Calcutta,Manipal etc . Most of the events were covered by leading papers.
The campaign donated the first 60 wigs with the help of ardent volunteers like Nisha who is also the brand ambassador and Tushara Arun who ensured that the wig reaches deserving chemo patients. DM Foundation’s EDDC has provided valuable support by collecting the donated hair and sponsoring the cost of 30 wigs. EDDC provides free screening for cancer detection.It is a registered charitable organisation
From 2014 the women’s forum Sargakshetra Cultural Centre has been recording the receipt of hair and the production and distribution of wigs Over 600 wigs have been distributed by Sargakshetra Cultural Centre alone by 2017. At present all donated hair goes to Adyar Cancer Centre.
Hair donation was a relatively unknown concept before we started. Today schools and colleges are queueing up to host events. But funds are a major problem so we are advising them to limit the number of donors.
The founder Premi Mathew handles the page, site, admin, events , PR and organises and guides the events without funds and staff. All the events are coordinated by her . Find events all over India at https://www.facebook.com/groups/728477983941504/
- It was a challenge to convert every hair cut into an event without any funds
- It was imperative to publish pictures of donors to create awareness but initially no one was willing
- When facebook started charging it became very challenging to run the page without funds
- People wanted proof but no patient would like to publish her picture after getting the wig
Cultural /financial /social /production problems
When cancer strikes people are too upset to bother about wigs.Some people feel uncomfortable about wearing a strangers hair. A good wig costs around Rs 15000 too expensive after the expense of chemo. Finance to pay the bills is a bigger problem and everything else fades in comparison.
We are using donated hair and giving it free to poor patients. For working people and students wig is virtually essential since artificial wigs could cause irritation and cannot be washed.Since we have only one wig maker who has agreed to make at nominal cost,production is a serious constraint. Funds to pay wig maker is also a major constraint. We invite sponsors to sponsor the events in exchange for banners.
A wig for every chemo patient
· Every cancer hospital will have a wig bank where people can possibly donate/ reuse old wigs /get a wig for immediate use which can be returned for a nominal fee.
· Every chemo patient should have the freedom to have a wig.Even middle class find it tough to spend on a wig after the huge expenses on treatment.
· Rotary clubs/schools/colleges will organise events sponsored by corporates and get the wigs done with sponsorship money
· Abroad 1/6 cancer patients die . In India 1/2 die.The ultimate objective is to change this by creating awareness and promoting early detection.Early detection could increase survival rates by 98%. Students could visit hospitals to identify patients and become more aware about cancer thereby building a more caring generate while simultaneously cutting mortality rates with early detection
· Banks/colleges could have a counter for collection thereby cutting down courier costs.
· We should have a network of wig makers around the country who will make it at cost price as CSR.