Protect Your Mom campaign, launched in the city, is not only about getting hair donors but also about early screening for cancer

Compassion is infectious. One kind act inspires another. The more you give the more you receive. Such words held together a crowd of young St. Teresa’s College students. They had gathered to witness an alumna, Nisha Mani, a former Miss Kerala, donate her lustrous hair for a cause - cancer. For her, this one act, she felt, could inspire many to donate their lustrous locks.

Cancer screening

The Protect Your Mom (PYM) campaign that kicked off on Wednesday is the brainchild of Dubai-based Premi Mathew, a Teresian. Premi says she was inspired to start two initiatives, Hair For Hope, India, and PYM after the decision of a young boy, Dylan John, to donate his hair for the cause. Dylan is from Kerala and lives in USA. Premi’s Facebook page - Protect Your Mom - has been in existence for over two years now and was slowly and surely spreading awareness about the cause and also getting hair donors. But it was a phone call by Nisha Mani that suddenly gave the cause a big thrust forward. And this was evident at the event.

Nisha recalled that seven years ago she had, at the fulfilment of a vow, cut her hair very short before shaving it. She preserved her cut hair for reasons not clear to her. Within a month she met a woman who had lost her hair to chemotherapy. Nisha gave her the shorn hair and said she had never felt so satisfied and happy. Earlier this month she met a cancer-affected woman with has lost her hair and was unsure of her self despite being a teacher. Nisha who had been following Premi’s PYM campaign got in touch with Premi and expressed her desire to donate her hair. “That was it”, says Premi. “I found a person who could get this movement going. We could start from Kochi and it could become an All India campaign.”

Said Nisha, looking radiant in a pink sari and her black tresses framing her face, “I am here because I love my mom and I love your moms too.” And as she had her hair snipped off her daughters Ritika and Priyanka stood beside her looking proud. “We are inspired by her,” they said.

Premi disclosed that wigs made from natural hair are better; the ideal length of cut hair for making wigs is 15 inches. Hair should be shampooed, dried and is tied into a pony tail before it is snipped. It is sent to organisations like Hair Aid in Mumbai that makes wigs for cancer patients. She hopes that Indian companies would take this up as their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) initiative.

The campaign on its maiden run motivated many to come forward and part with their precious locks. Eighty-year-old Thangamma John and mother of Molly Mathew, president of Alumni Association of St Teresa’s, decided to donate her hair. She was swept by the fervour of the cause and the moment. Her daughter Molly had earlier done so and donated to Locks of Love, an American organisation. A great-grand mom, Thangamma hopes to inspire four generations of girls to donate hair and get their moms to regularly check for cancer.

The next stage of the campaign is when another well-known personality from the city, the Dean of Global Public School, Lakshmi Ramachandran will donate her hair in the school. “I wanted to do it at a personal level but I am convinced now to do it publicly. If one voice can cause a ripple then that’s it. I am okay with hair donation even if it is shaving it off,” says Lakshmi, who rues the fact that she has cut and wasted her hair so many times because of lack of awareness. She discloses with great pride about a student of her school, Sameera who has done so quietly without fanfare. Another PYM event is planned for July 13.

And as the campaign catches momentum, as one hair cut inspires another, Premi says that it is all about daughters getting their mothers to screen themselves early because chances of a cure are bright after early detection and to not bin your hair but to donate it.

For more details on PYM visit their Facebook page - Protect Your Mom.