Kunal Saraff- The Saviours

Our lives get defined by a crucial event, an inflection point, which catapults us into action to do something bigger than ourselves! For me, it was the incident when my grandfather met with a minor accident and was denied emergency blood requirement, even in a premier hospital. Although last-minute help from my relatives saved his life, the incident led me to start an NGO – ‘The Saviours’, to make sure no one has to face the issue of blood shortage again.

I am Kunal Saraff a management graduate, a writer and the founder of an NGO ‘The Saviours’. It is a youth-led NGO in India focused on providing emergency blood donation and aims to eradicate blood shortage in India. It was a humbling experience to receive ‘National Youth Award’ from Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, in recognition of our efforts for The Saviours.

After research, I found out, that India today faces a shortage of 10% relative to its blood requirements. In absolute terms, this means that we require covering a shortfall of over 12 lakh units. Given that the eligible donor population of India is more than 512 million, this deficit is surprising. With an aim to bridge this gap, Saviours was launched in August 2014 in Kolkata with only a database of 10 emergency donors and the organization was registered in October 2014. Since then, it has come a long way with a team of 2000+ people volunteering for the cause, a database of 30,000+emergency donors and has arranged over 1,000 donors in an emergency to save lives.

The organization works on the army of volunteers from colleges. The students intern with the team and learn the processes. Once they go through the initial training they help people register with them. Once the data of the donors are collected and accepted, the interns mail them to confirm their registrations. The database is vetted by multiple teams in the organization and is finally given to the requests team. The requests team takes care of the emergency requests for blood and connects them to the donors in their area. Once the donors agree, they are connected to the receiver for blood donation.

Earlier the team used to arrange the donors in emergency and conducted awareness campaigns but since the inception of the organization it is organizing successful blood donation camps, awareness drives at events such as Raahgiri Day conducts Humanity Week etc. We have conducted over 15 blood camps with a total of 1150 blood units in last 2 years.

You don’t need to be God to save lives… Be a ‘Saviour’– That’s the philosophy that drives us. Anyone who voluntarily donates blood through the organization is provided with the title of a “Saviour”, along with a certificate stating the details regarding their good deed. We also encourage every Saviour to encourage three more people to register as emergency volunteers.

However, there are a lot of hurdles specific to arranging blood donations and awareness campaigns. People are always apprehensive of their health if they donate blood. Also, convincing the registered donors to actually donate blood during an emergency is a difficult task. Many people only register but are never inclined to assist. But for a good cause, right people always turn up. In general, it was difficult to overcome the negative perceptions set forth by the society which stereotypes that NGOs or entrepreneurship, are sub-optimal occupations. These perceptions still exist but I believe the strength of good work by increasing people of social entrepreneurs will definitely put a dent on it.

My tryst with entrepreneurship is much older. I started my first venture ‘Saviour Publications’ while I was still in college and published help books for exam preparations. I also made an app called ‘No more Tension’ which curated websites according to 24 categories to simplify web search for senior citizens. As most of the old people do not use the internet and can’t remember the names of different websites according to their needs.

‘When you help others, the universe conspires to help you’ is the guiding philosophy of my life and I chronicled my life journey in a book called –‘How an iPhone Made Me the Youngest Billionaire’ It has received positive reviews on Goodreads and remains amongst the bestseller on Amazon.

It was a one-man show, which arranged donors in an emergency when I started. Now we are in four cities- Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata. My further plans are to decentralize my team and start independent operations in all the cities. Moreover, I want to make this a youth-led revolution which pushes the blood supply and demand back in equilibrium.

Kunal Saraff| Founder- The Saviours

RISHI BANSHIWAL- REACHING SKY FOUNDATION

In the world which is constantly changing and evolving, you run the risk of becoming obsolete if you are not adopting. ‘Survival of the fittest’- decades old as this biological theory slash adage is, it shall never lose its relevance even if human race was wiped out and ruled by robots or machines.

I am Rishi Banshiwal, co-founder of ‘Reaching Sky Foundation’. This social initiative is aimed at making the youth of India ‘fit’ for survival in this competitive world and makes them employable by imparting them the most important skills and education. Currently I am a United Nations Volunteer, working on a National Project which promotes volunteering among youth all over India to get involved in matters critical for the development of the country like the sustainable development goals. We are working on opportunities so that they can improve their skills, networks, competencies and feel much more confident about themselves and then go on to become success stories and inspire others in their respective society.

I belong to a family which has a deeply rooted culture of volunteering and I imbibed their habits whole heartedly. It is a maddening world and it takes being more than ‘good enough’ to make a mark in the society. I come from a humble background and I realized it was need of the hour to make people, especially our youth, resourceful and thus came the idea for this initiative.

After completing my graduation I worked with many young leaders and organizations in Delhi/NCR and executed 8+ social projects. I got hungry to learn more and realized I needed to develop skills to deliver the best, if I were to stick to this field and make a social impact. So, I took up a managerial Course (MBA) from a socially inclined University in Agra – Dayalbagh Educational Institute. In the last semester of my MBA, post finishing my internship with another social organization, I registered my dream social venture. Through this initiative I wanted to give power and awesomeness to our youth which promotes lifelong growth. After discussing this idea with co-founder Sunidhi Kant, we decided to give it a name – ‘‘Reaching Sky Foundation”..

Riding on a wave of passion to make an impact, we started with empty hands and a big dream. We wanted to save money so we painted the walls of our office by ourselves and converted a rented store room into a breathable working office space within a month. I also learnt new skills like designing, video-editing, web development etc. which made me very productive. We embraced and utilized new technology to solve day to day problems. It’s difficult to show someone what you are working on at the initial stage and there are apprehensions as to what should be the next step. It is important to have faith and take suggestions and criticism in a positive light.

My passion and my efforts for promoting volunteering and supporting youth were rewarded when as I was awarded as the “Youth Champion” in September, 2016 by iVolunteer Awards! This was extremely humbling and motivating moment for me and it energized me double up my efforts to keep up the good work.

Today, the small initiative started in a rented room is a big movement, giving opportunities to hundreds of youth to help change their lives by changing the life of others. In the last half decade of working with youth and children on quality education at more than 10 slum sites and by mobilizing more than 25,000 volunteers , I have managed to streamline my passion for volunteering in a more effective and deliberate way and the rewards have been immensely fulfilling! On the field, when I see my students excitingly waiting for our team to come and teach the lessons we have planned, it makes all the hard work worth it. When the volunteers who devoted their time in being the resourceful persons on field tells me that they had the best time of their lives and they feel much more confident and competent about themselves, I feel our efforts are important and relevant for the development of our society.

I feel that I am the luckiest person because I chose to work for my ‘passion’ rather than for a ‘job’.

Rishi Banshiwal

Co-founder ‘Reaching Sky Foundation’| Social Entrepreneur