Sunday, 11 January 2015

It’s all thanks to one simple hashtag - #HelpBabyBala


A concerted twitter and facebook appeal for funding for the surgery of a sick child, has raised a whopping Rs.7.73 lakh in the last 6 days - with actor Vijay chipped in became viral in social media.
Sixteen-month-old Balasubramaniam, was diagnosed with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Syndrome - a condition where even the commonest of colds could deal a fatal blow. The only way to save him was a bone marrow transplant with a price tag of Rs.20 lakhs, which was huge amount to raise by a labour's family. A week ago, as they lounged around the waiting room at the Sri Ramachandra Medical Centre, Murugan admits that he could not imagine raising that much money, “We have already lost two children like this. I desperately tried to save Bala by taking him to Mehta, Apollo and now SRMC, but the operation was too much,” he explains. They’d sent out letters to charitable organizations and printed appeals, but very little reaped returns.
One of his friends called Rahman, who uses social media promotions for film trailers and publicity tried to help on the medium , “I started a twitter handle @HelpBabyBala and sent a basic appeal by tagging actors like Sivakarthikeyan and Vivekh. It was a force of habit for me,” he smiles. It was New Year’s Eve, but the Maan Karate star did a simple retweet. That set the ball rolling, “Within one hour it was trending and people started asking me where to send money. I didn’t know what to do, so I asked the baby’s father,” he explains.
They decided to start a bank account in the child’s name, which the bank pushed through in an hour despite just coming off a holiday. As soon as the account numbers were tweeted, the funds began to pour in. Soul crushingly, Bala’s condition began to deteriorate two days ago and he was no longer viable for the surgery. “There is very little hope now, so we asked people to stop donating. But they say that we must pray and keep going. Their love and support is so great that Murugan is going to ask them if this unused money can be given to some other deserving child with the same condition,” says Rahman.
The tweet caught the attention of actor Vijay. Vijay was shooting for Puli in Pondicherry and so sent his fan club secretary to first go check whether the child’s case was genuine. “He called at 11 pm that night and took all the details. The next day he came there and after visiting the child, quietly gave us a cheque for Rs. 2 lakh from Vijay. He even put us on a call and he took time off shooting and told us that he would pray for the child’s safety,” says Murugan.  
- Preethipriya.C


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