COMPASSION CALLS

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Compassion calls

by Mir Tanveer

Meet Srinagar’s Shabir Hussain Khan – India’s biggest blood donor. This man inspires with his indomitable spirit to serve the humanity in dire straits. Maybe the Kashmir government and the administration need to acknowledge this man’s service.

SRINAGAR has another feather in its cap. Shabir Hussain Khan, a man from the City, has become India’s biggest blood donor. Shabir Khan’s journey started way back on July 4, 1980, when a friend residing in his locality, was injured while playing football. Khan, without any inhibitions, walked to the hospital and donated blood to help out
his friend. Thus began Shabir Hussain Khan’s journey with blood donation which has now become one of his most important goals. Having donated 182 pints of blood since then, he has broken all records at the age of 57. But most importantly, he has saved several lives. He is locally known as the ‘blood man of Kashmir’ and has since used his popularity to create awareness about the importance of blood donation. “Blood is not something you can buy in the market,” says he, adding, “in those days, blood donation was not common, nor were blood banks. The way blood is available readily now, it was not like that before. Also, there was no connectivity at that time. We only had radios and two or three landline phones in the entire locality.” Shabir Khan volunteers with the Indian Red Cross Society which he has been doing for the last 40 years. Today he handles a team of 40 across
Kashmir, helping people in earthquake and flood-affected areas.

In 1988, he was summoned by Nobel peace laureate Mother Teresa to Kolkata, where he worked with her in slums. Even after such achievement, Khan rues that in Kashmir, the state and administrative machinery have not taken his efforts seriously and the importance of what he does for donating blood to save human lives and safeguarding humanity. Says he: “I approached them multiple times but they never even acknowledged my efforts with any award or certificate of appreciation. But irrespective of such cold indifference,
my efforts to serve the humanity will continue till my last breath. This endeavour and passion for donating blood without any greed or materialistic goals is an attitude that needs to be encouraged and donors need to be appreciated if we wish to encourage altruistic
activism and wish that it gets inculcated in the future generations”. Talking about how to raise awareness among people about the cause, Khan says that introducing more incentives could help. “In developed countries like the UK, donors receive a gold medal when they donate 100 pints. In Kashmir, there is no such concept. Appreciating veteran
donors would encourage more people to donate blood,” says Khan. Khan might be a messiah for the people in Srinagar and for all the people whose lives he has helped save, but his own life is riddled with hardships. He lives with his brother, an adopted daughter, and an ailing mother and works as a manual labourer. “I was a papier-mache artist
but no one buys papier-mache products now, so I had to look for something else to make a living,” he said. Between his family responsibilities and looking after his ailing mother,
he admits that he sometimes feels “crushed” by poverty. “Particularly when you have given so much to the society and when you are in need, no one offers help. It is not a joke to donate blood. It requires a lot of motivation, persistence and dedication,” he points. Still fuelled with the desire to do more, it is clear that Khan’s never-say- die attitude is the reason behind how far he has come in his initiative. “Every good deed I have done has been for Allah and it is He who will reward me for this in the hereafter,” Khan says.
Shabir Hussain Khan hopes that despite difficulties and odds, this mission of serving humanity will not end. He is glad that he has been able to inspire dozens of youth across Kashmir for this noble cause. He says this spirit should be encouraged since our society needs much awareness and counselling regarding blood donations. Nowadays, our
health care institutions and hospitals are capable of storing blood in their blood banks to help critical patients. So blood donation is so much more convenient for both the donor as well as the recipient.

Meanwhile, for Khan, serving humanity gives him “satisfaction and peace”. Seeing people in trouble should trigger a sense of sympathy, kindness, generosity and offering a helping hand, he feels, adding a smile. In fact, it is he who has put smiles on so many faces and
continues to.

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